24 November 2021

Improving health outcomes for young Indigenous Australians


Joint media release with

The Hon Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

The Hon Ken Wyatt AM MP
Minister for Indigenous Australians

The Morrison Government is investing $3.9 million to improve the health of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by encouraging healthy, active lifestyle changes and addressing risk factors for chronic disease.

The Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) recruits 10 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people each year as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP), to engage in health, running and leadership programs to become healthy lifestyle leaders in their own communities.

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said the IMF has a significant record of preparing young people to undertake marathons in Australia and prior to the pandemic, internationally.

“Running a marathon is a serious commitment which takes focus, determination and stamina, and the participants’ achievements each year are inspirational,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Our Government is providing $3.9 million over four years to ensure the program continues to find talented, young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and help them achieve their potential.

“This funding will mean the Foundation can continue the Indigenous Marathon Project, producing not only amazing runners but future Indigenous leaders.”

Around 34 per cent of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are under 14 years old, almost double the proportion of non-Indigenous (18 per cent) and the Indigenous Marathon recruits are good role models for these young people.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said each year the IMF’s investment in young leaders inspires entire communities.

“From its beginning as the Indigenous Marathon Project, set up by Australian world champion marathon runner Rob de Castella in 2009, more than 120 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander runners have passed through the Foundation’s program,” Minister Hunt said.

“Each runner not only trains to be able to compete in a full marathon, but also gains important education in health and leadership to become agents of change, promoting active and healthy lifestyles in their own communities.

“The IMF also works closely with the Aboriginal community controlled health sector to ensure that the Project meets the needs of both the young runners and the communities where health promotion activities are conducted.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt AM, MP, said the Indigenous Marathon Project promoted more than just a healthy lifestyle.

“The project is unique in that it uses running to celebrate Indigenous resilience and foster Indigenous leadership. This funding will ensure the project’s continued success.”

Data shows that insufficient physical exercise and poor nutrition is a significant contributor to the disproportionate burden of disease experienced by many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Since 2009, the IMF has provided support to more than 122 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women, with many going on to work in health related fields, while continuing to be positive health ambassadors for their local communities.

More information is available on the Indigenous Marathon Foundation.