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Rio Tinto & Athletics Australia partner in Athletics for the Outback and Raise The Bar programs across Australia

Published Fri 23 Sep 2022

The Athletics for the Outback and Raise the Bar programs have been formally relaunched today by Athletics Australia. This relaunch is possible through the exclusive partnership support of Rio Tinto.

The programs increase opportunities for remote and Indigenous communities to participate in athletics and provide a platform for participants to explore tertiary education and career opportunities after school.

In 2022, Rio Tinto Athletics for the Outback will visit six remote communities. The first program was delivered in Weipa in North Queensland in July. It was an opportunity to pilot the new program format, and local Rio Tinto employees played a significant role in the program delivery and contributed to its success. Other locations Athletics for the Outback will visit include Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory and communities in the Pilbara region in Western Australia. The program will scale to twenty locations by 2024.

Rio Tinto Athletics for the Outback provides opportunities for participation in athletics through the provision of equipment, knowledge, and connection. Accredited Athletics Australia coaches visit communities to conduct coaching clinics, come-and-try days, develop local running clubs and upskill community leaders and teachers as accredited coaches, providing expertise to continue the program work in the community. Programs are delivered in schools and through local community partnerships.

“Rio Tinto Athletics for the Outback is a remarkable program that focuses on delivering positive social impact in Indigenous and remote communities through the power and universality of athletics with the support of the community”, said Adam Bishop, General Manager of Growth and Development at Athletics Australia. 

‘The program increases access to athletics in remote areas of the country. It also helps to create further employment and education opportunities, and provides opportunities to improve social connection, physical health and mental wellbeing. The program may also potentially unearth the next generation of Australian athletics stars as we head towards Brisbane 2032’.

Rio Tinto Raise the Bar is a pathway academy for Indigenous secondary school students (Years 10, 11 and 12) from remote communities who aspire to participate in athletics. It also provides the opportunity for them to explore tertiary education and career opportunities, including with Rio Tinto. Through a week-long camp conducted at Universities in Perth, Darwin, Brisbane and North Queensland students are exposed to life and education opportunities at university and participate in athletics development with elite Athletics Australia coaches and athletes. Participants will also take part in sessions at Rio Tinto offices, developing skills and competencies that enhance employability and showcase the range of career opportunities at Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto Raise the Bar has had immense success in supporting Indigenous students in completing their high school education and going on to accept places at university and TAFE with  participation rates well above the national average.

Rio Tinto and Athletics Australia have been working together over the past year to successfully relaunch both programs after they  were paused during COVID-19.

“The Athletics for the Outback and Raise the Bar programs are extraordinary programs, but they are only possible to deliver with the support of a committed partner,’ said Peter Bromley, CEO of Athletics Australia.

“The partnership is one of true collaboration that harnesses our collective resources to ensure the experience and outcomes for participants and communities is considered, consultative, engaging, and sustainable, all the while increasing access to the sport we love, athletics.”

Through Rio Tinto’s partnership, Athletics Australia has been able to employ a full-time First Nations Program Manager and First Nations Program Coordinators in each of the program states.  Three of the new employees are Indigenous.

“We are delighted to partner with Athletics Australia to support two fantastic community driven programs for students in remote and Indigenous communities,” said Kellie Parker, Rio Tinto Chief Executive Australia.

“It’s exciting to see these programs reach and deliver such positive outcomes in some of the most isolated communities in Australia.”

“Our team is working closely with Athletics Australia to help grow the reach and engagement of both programs across the country.”

By Athletics Australia and Rio Tinto
Posted: 23/9/2022