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UC sets course with marathon partnership

Antony Perry

31 May 2017: The University of Canberra has committed to going the distance in a new partnership with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF).

The University marked National Reconciliation Week by signing a memorandum of understanding with the IMF in a move that will strengthen its commitment to engaging with and fostering the growth of Indigenous Australians.

Under the agreement signed yesterday, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will have greater access to services and more opportunities to lead healthy lifestyles.

The University and the IMF will collaborate on a number of activities including the development of student internship programs, providing access to facilities and services, scholarships and volunteer initiatives.

Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Deep Saini said the University was committed to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Professor Saini said the agreement was in line with the framework set out in the University’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategic Plan 2017 – 2021, which was released last month.

“The University of Canberra is committed to undertaking active and meaningful engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples,” Professor Saini said.

“We’re focused on building strong networks with reconciliation at the core and the opportunity to continue to work with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation embodies this commitment.

“The University and the foundation want to embolden Indigenous Australians to strive for more and to be their best selves. Collaboration is key to achieving these outcomes and we’re looking forward to working together.”

The IMF was founded by Australian former world champion marathon runner Robert de Castella in 2010. It uses running as a vehicle to celebrate Indigenous achievement, resilience and culture, and to promote healthy and active lifestyles.

In just seven years, the IMF has made running a normal activity for Indigenous people around Australia. More than 60 people have participated in its flagship program, the Indigenous Marathon Project, which sees a group of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women participate in the New York City Marathon each year.

Mr de Castella said the University of Canberra was a leader in Indigenous education and he was delighted to have the opportunity to work together.

“Education is a powerful mechanism for enabling us to fulfil our potential in life and for Indigenous Australians it is even more important to find ways to achieve and facilitate this,” Mr de Castella said.

“This partnership will enable the Indigenous Marathon Foundation to develop a strong and vibrant link between our Indigenous runners, their families and communities, and higher education.

“I am thrilled to partner with this leading Institution that has for many years done so much for our Indigenous people.”