Minister for Regional Health appointed Honorary Ambassador for JMF

The Hon Mark Coulton MP, Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government and Federal Member for Parkes, visited Dubbo on 31 March 2021 to observe John Moriarty Football (JMF), which was established in 2012 and is the longest-running and most successful Indigenous football program in Australia.

JMF addresses 11 of the 16 Closing the Gap targets and is life-changing for more than 1,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and boys aged 2 to 16 years of age.

It also provides local Aboriginal jobs, with almost two-thirds of the 40 coaching and administrative staff being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and all receiving wide-ranging professional development, including in first aid, safe food handling, mental health and becoming licensed coaches.

Minister Coulton, together with Mr Dugald Saunders MP, Member for Dubbo, visited John Moriarty Football to see how the initiative is helping close the gap and transform the lives of Indigenous girls and boys, their families and communities.

The Minister and Mr Saunders were also honoured with a pair of boots, painted by the young men at the Orana Juvenile Justice Centre where JMF is delivered, with the Minister also being appointed an Honorary JMF Ambassador.

Mark Coulton MP Orana Juvenile Justice Centre JMF

(Mark Coulton MP presented with Indigenous-designed football boots at Orana Juvenile Justice Centre)

“It is a pleasure to be here today, to see first-hand the difference this program is making to local children and the wider Dubbo community,” Minister Coulton said.

“I have long been a supporter of programs like this one that use children’s passion for sport to inspire positive change. The life skills that can be gained by playing in a team sport are enormous – from learning discipline and hard work to teamwork and relationship-building.

“There are also many physical and mental health benefits to playing sport, and it’s great to see the JMF initiative is helping to Close the Gap in our remote and regional communities. I’m proud to be an Ambassador of this initiative.”

(Mark Coulton MP presented with John Moriarty Football jersey as Honorary JMF Ambassador)

“What JMF has achieved has been incredible and it’s a real credit to our local coaching teams, Community Advisory Groups and staff,” said John Moriarty, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of JMF. John was the first Indigenous footballer selected to play for Australia.

“From a program in the remote Northern Territory community of Borroloola with 120 children in 2012, we now deliver to 18 different communities in the Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales and partner with 18 public schools. Our growth rate for participants in the past 18 months is over 1,000%. One of the main drivers behind our ability to have such a positive impact on the lives of Indigenous children is because we are far more than just a football initiative.”

“We provide an integrated solution with an Aboriginal worldview that addresses the educational, physical and mental health, nutritional, and wellbeing needs of Indigenous children. JMF is co-designed and led by local communities, so we can ensure it is delivered in a culturally-embedded way,” added Mr Moriarty.

Mr Coulton and Mr Saunders had the pleasure of experiencing a JMF in-school session at Dubbo West Public School, meeting participants and teachers and also speaking with JMF founders, John Moriarty AM and Ros Moriarty.

Minister Coulton JMF Dubbo West Public School

(Mark Coulton MP meets Doris Shillingsworth, Aboriginal Education Officer at Dubbo West Public School and observes a John Moriarty Football session)

Mr Moriarty added, “Following on from the incredible impact JMF has had with its latest expansion, we are seeking further funding to scale the initiative to reach even more Indigenous children and communities across Australia.

“We believe football has the power to effect powerful positive social change and provide pathways to improved physical and mental health, wellbeing, education and community engagement.

“Our goal is to create these pathways and unlock the potential of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.”

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