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Supporting healthy communities through sports and recreation programs

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posted on 2013-12-01, 00:00 authored by Vicki WareVicki Ware, V Meredith
There is some evidence, in the form of critical descriptions of programs and systematic reviews, on the benefits to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from participation in sport and recreational programs. These include some improvements in school retention, attitudes towards learning, social and cognitive skills, physical and mental health and wellbeing; increased social inclusion and cohesion; increased validation of and connection to culture; and crime reduction.
Although the effects of sports and recreation programs can be powerful and transformative, these effects tend to be indirect. For example, using these programs to reduce juvenile antisocial behaviour largely work through diversion, providing alternative safe opportunities to risk taking, maintenance of social status, as well
as opportunities to build healthy relationships with Elders and links with culture.
Although Indigenous Australians have lower rates of participation in sport than non-Indigenous people, surveys suggest that around one-third of Indigenous people participate in some sporting activity (ABS 2010). That makes sports a potentially powerful vehicle for encouraging Indigenous communities to look at challenging personal and community issues.
Within Indigenous communities, a strong component of sport and recreation is the link with traditional culture. Cultural activities such as hunting are generally more accepted as a form of sport and recreation than traditional dance. Therefore sport and recreation are integral in understanding ‘culture’ within Indigenous communities, as well as highlighting the culture within which sport and recreation operate.





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Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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Closing the Gap Clearinghouse;

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A6 Research report/technical paper

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2013, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

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