National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Indigenous Olympic track cyclists

National Reconciliation Week 2017.

This week, Australia is celebrating National Reconciliation Week 2017.

National Reconciliation Week (NRW) celebrates, reflects and builds on respectful relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other non-Indigenous Australians.

This year is particularly important as 2017 marks 50 years since the 1967 Referendum (May 27th), and 25 years (3rd June) since the historic Mabo decision.

The theme for #NRW2017 is ‘Let’s Take the Next Steps’, and there are many events and activities on offer throughout the week.

Griffith University has a strong commitment to Indigenous issues and positive Reconciliation.

One of my favourite annual events is the Walk and Talk event, which was held this Tuesday. It is a great event to connect, reflect and acknowledge.  I love doing the bushwalk between the Mt Gravatt and Nathan Campus, a trail I regularly walk or ride by myself, with a host of other students, staff and locals – and I always meet someone interesting and learn something new.

Aboriginal participation in cycling

It also gave me pause for thought about how Indigenous riders had opportunities to participate in mainstream Australian cycling culture. This is an area that needs serious concentrated effort and commitment. There are a few rare programs that focus on encouraging and increase access to biking for indigenous riders.

For example, this blog has previously featured the NSW Indigenous Mountain Bike Project as well as for NAIDOC Week 2016, the Aboriginal Bicycle Safety Program in NSW. So to celebrate NRW 2017, I searched for some other cycling program that was creating some positive cycling change for Aboriginal Australians – and this is what I found..

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

 The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID)

Last year, The Indigenous Talent Identification and Development Squad (ITID) was initiated at the Midvale Speed Dome (Perth) for young aboriginal riders aged 10-14 by Amanda O’Connor (Coach) to help identify and develop Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic track cyclist.

Reports from this time last year indicate there were 8 Indigenous boys and girls riding in the squad.

Just after its conception, the ITID introduced some of the young talents, such as LeMarna Valentine and Rory Charles – as these up-and-coming ITID cyclists were due to participate with their teammates in a junior Pacific tournament in September 2016.

I also found a 3’ 26” ABC segment which gives a little more about the ITID development squad – New ABC Radio: Program in WA to identify the next generation of Aboriginal athletes.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

More support, access and recognition for Indigenous riders please!!!

It was great to see a forward-thinking program that provides instruction and coaching for track cycling for young aboriginal cyclists. Considering the immense investment in time and effort required to success at track cycling, it is a step in the right direction to provide a safe and encouraging environment for new and younger cyclists to try their hand at track.

Considering the success Australia has had so far in 2017 in track cycling, there certainly looks like there room for fresh new faces to get amongst it – and it would be great to see some aboriginal athletes representing Australia in track cycling in the future.

National Reconciliation Week 2017 & Aboriginal track cyclists

Source: Hills Gazette. Young cyclists in training: LeMarna Valentine, Rory Charles and Jacqualene Williams. Picture: Steve Lloyd

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