I rise tonight to formally put on the record my congratulations to the Cairns Hockey Association and its innovative Aspire to be Deadly program, which has made the shortlist for a prestigious international award. Aspire to be Deadly aims to give women and young girls an opportunity to complete and advance their education, to create real pathways for training and employment and to be visible so they themselves can become role models for other Indigenous women and young girls.
It is also about involving them in interactive training and workshops so they learn how to better communicate key messages relating to health, safety and wellbeing in support of community participation sports programs.
Last week, Cairns Hockey received news that the Aspire program is one of 42 finalists selected from over 250 international entries vying for a coveted Beyond Sport Award. These awards promote, support and reward the best projects across the globe that are using sport for positive social change.
Cairns Hockey Association is one of four finalists competing to win the Sport Federation or Governing Body of the Year award. They are up against the European Club Association's 90 Minutes for Hope, the USA's Major League Baseball Play Ball, and Australia's National Rugby League's School to Work Program. The winners will be announced at the awards presentation on 19 October at the Beyond Sport summit in London.
I am absolutely thrilled that Aspire and Cairns Hockey have received this international recognition. I would like particularly to highlight the efforts of the President of Cairns Hockey, Scott Brown; the operations manager, Julie McNeil; and program coordinators Wes Ferns and Jess Fatnowna.
This award clearly shows that in Cairns we have the innovative thinking, cultural understanding, educational expertise and real dedication to lead the world in improving opportunities for Indigenous people.
According to Julie, it is difficult to convey the benefits the program delivers because in many instances it is carried out in remote locations. As an example, last Friday over 50 young people travelled by ferry, bus and charter flight from across the Torres Strait to take part in a competition of a hockey-like game called Migi Kokan. This carnival was the result of a partnership between Cairns Hockey's Aspire program, Tagai State College and the communities of the Torres Strait Islands. In 10 days, Cairns Hockey will again be making history by leading an under-11 tour of 20 students to Karumba in south-western Cape York.
The Gulf region is already seeing the interest in hockey increase because of this program, and more teams than ever before have nominated because of Cairns making the trip. Other positive spin-offs include students managing to attain 90 per cent attendance levels and good behaviour, making them eligible to participate. As Julie says, this is where hockey can and does make a real difference.
I am pleased that the Coalition Government has acknowledged the value and potential of this program by providing funding for the pilot through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy. As a long-time supporter of Cairns Hockey and a proud patron of the Far North Queensland Rubies, the Indigenous young ladies' hockey team, and Blaze, the Indigenous men's team, I certainly will do whatever I can to make sure this support continues.
In the long term, Cairns Hockey aims to run the program in more than 40 Indigenous communities in Far North Queensland and far north-west Queensland, reaching 40,000 participants over three years. It is also seeking to build training facilities and residential opportunities specifically for Indigenous young women, supporting training, education and employment outcomes, starting in 2017. We have already seen the success of a similar model in Cairns, with AFL Cape York House focusing on Indigenous boys through the fantastic efforts of Rick Hanlon and his team.
Cairns Hockey is hoping to send a delegation to London to attend the Beyond Sport Awards. This is a fantastic opportunity, and I strongly urge any local companies or organisations that are able to provide sponsorship, assistance with flights or funding to contact Cairns Hockey as soon as possible.
To Scott, Julie, Wes, Jess and your team: I wish you the very best of luck at the awards ceremony and thank you very much for your commitment to bettering the lives of young Indigenous women in our communities.