ESSA acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of lands, seas and waters throughout Australia, and pays respect to Elders past, present and future. We recognise that the health, and social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are grounded in continued connection to culture, country, language and community.
NAIDOC Week is an important time to celebrate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities and cultures. Exercise & Sports Science Australia (ESSA) encourages all Australians to learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories, and to participate in the celebrations of the oldest, continuous living cultures on earth. ESSA stands with our First Nations peoples and supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and Makarrata.
ESSA recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Nations peoples of the lands and waters on which it operates. Being NAIDOC Week, ESSA is standing strong on our commitment to supporting high impact community level outcomes that will empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout Australia. Both exercise and sport have played an important role in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s health and well-being for millennia and does so now and into the future. At ESSA we are proud to be associated with exercise and sport for our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and across their diverse communities.
ESSA acknowledges that we are still early on in our journey in this space, but we are committed to genuine and meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ESSA members and the wider Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community throughout the many First Nations.
In previous years, ESSA has developed and completed a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), sought endorsement of our Acknowledgment of Country and commissioned a series of art pieces for our office which tell the story of exercise as medicine.
More recently ESSA became a signatory to the Ngayubah Gadan Consensus Statement developed by the National Rural Commissioners Office, that defines Rural and Remote Multidisciplinary Health Teams (RRMHT) within the contemporary Australian context.
ESSA is currently co-designing our first Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy that will be ambitious and benefit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community across a broad range of empowerment drivers. ESSA values the diverse worldviews of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in co-designing high-impact community-level outcomes in line with key ESSA strategies. The Working Group will position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to lead the industry through strong alignment with the ESSA Board and our values, our mission as well as enrich our shared community. We thank those members who felt empowered and driven to volunteer to contribute to this important work.
Like many other health and medical organisations, ESSA is committed to working together with our colleagues and diverse communities. We promote the principles of co-design in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to achieve equity in health outcomes, promote self-determination in health and enhance community ownership drivers of exercise and sports science in Australia. This also means ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have access to health services that are culturally safe and culturally responsive to position Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the centre of their health journey and is key to achieving their health outcomes.
Dr Keane Wheeler is Chair of ESSA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy Working Group, an Accredited Exercise Scientist and proud Ngarabal man. He has the following advice:
“The Uluru Statement positions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples at the centre of our own journey, and this includes our own health and wellbeing. Voice. Treaty. Truth. The foundations for meeting the challenges that face our diverse communities. The ESSA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy will build on the momentum of the Uluru Statement, acknowledging excellence of those who have gone before and those who are currently fighting for our rights, to promote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander success in exercise and sports science”.
After deep consideration the ESSA Board publicly supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We believe it is important that as a peak professional body, we have a strong view on the Uluru Statement. As a significant issue that goes to the foundations of our nation, ESSA’s position is determined by the Board to reflect our values and commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially those peoples who are ESSA members.
With the upcoming referendum on the Voice to Parliament, ESSA recognises members may have differing opinions on the vote and will not be directing members on how to vote. ESSA does, however, emphasise our strong support of the Uluru Statement and Makarrata.
We look forward to our future engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and urge all members to make their own decision in the upcoming referendum. If you are seeking more information on the Voice to Parliament, we recommend you look to the Reconciliation Australia and Australian Government websites.
ESSA acknowledges that we are all on a journey and encourages members to further educate themselves on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement as well as reflect on how they can best promote health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through self-determination, reciprocity and community engagement.