Indigenous women closing the health gap

Exercise & Sports Science Australia is working to ensure that closing the health gap remains a top priority for the Australian Government. Photo: ESSA.
Exercise & Sports Science Australia is working to ensure that closing the health gap remains a top priority for the Australian Government. Photo: ESSA.

This NAIDOC week Exercise & Sports Science  Australia is celebrating Indigenous women working to close the gap. 

With health a huge factor in achieving life expectation equality, Indigenous women across Australia have significantly contributed to promoting the importance of staying fit and healthy.  

“NAIDOC Week is a perfect time to reflect on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have helped to promote the importance of physical activity in the community,” Bree Sauer, exercise physiologist and proud Iman tribe woman said. 

This year’s NAIDOC theme is ‘Because of Her, We Can’ – reflecting on the active and significant roles Indigenous women have played, and continue to play, at community, local, state and national levels.

“It is really important that we encourage our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, aunties, daughters, young sisters and cousins to be active,” she said. 

These are just some of the Indigenous women who inspire health through sport:

  • Cathy Freeman, – the first Australian Indigenous person to become a Commonwealth Games gold medallist at age 16. 
  • Nova Peris-Kneebone – the first Aboriginal Australian to win an Olympic gold medal. This was at the 1996 Olympic Games with the Australian women’s hockey team, the Hockeyroos.
  • Rohanee Cox – plays for Sydney Uni Flames for the Women’s NBL and was the first Indigenous woman to win a basketball medal for Australia.
  • Ashleigh Gardner – plays for the Sydney Sixers in the Australian Women's Big Bash League and was the first Indigenous woman to play in a cricket World Cup.
  • Kira Phillips – plays for Fremantle Dockers and was the first player of Indigenous descent to score in the Women's AFL.

“We are so proud of these deadly women who inspire and encourage our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, aunties, daughters, sisters and cousins to become more involved in sport and exercise in the community,” Ms Sauer said.

Improving physical activity levels significantly improves health and presents an opportunity to reduce the health gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, ESSA CEO Anita Hobson-Powell said. 

“As we celebrate NAIDOC week, Exercise and Sports Science Australia wants to ensure that closing the health gap remains a top priority for our Australian Government.

“Closing the health gap means achieving health and life expectation equality for Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” she said. 

With physical inactivity accounting for about eight per cent of the health burden among Indigenous peoples (compared to 6.6 per cent in non-Indigenous Australians), encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to remain active is vital.

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