Empowering young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be leaders in their communities through the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) underpins the new grants initiative jointly announced by Qantas and its Ambassador Hugh Jackman on 28th October 2016.
Graduates of the IMF will benefit from the $1.4 million donation from the Qantas Foundation are known as Frontrunners and this initiative will help them further their education or career, pursue a business enterprise or support a community development project.
Founded by world champion marathon runner Robert De Castella, IMF selects a squad of 18-30 year old Indigenous men and women from around Australia to train for the New York Marathon with little or no running experience. An IMF squad member graduates when they cross the finish line in New York.
Hugh Jackman and Robert De Castella meeting some IMF graduates and launching the Qantas grants.
Qantas Ambassador Hugh Jackman said he was proud to represent Qantas as it deepened its relationship with IMF. He commented “I’ve been so impressed by the inspirational work that Rob does and the brilliant young runners he’s mentoring through IMF.” and added that the opportunities given over the past five years of the programme can now be taken to a higher level. He said “The finish line in New York is really just the starting point for these young leaders and I can’t wait to see what they do next.”
Robert De Castella (remembered by many Aussies as ‘Deeks’) welcomed the Qantas investment, noting that “When the runners cross the finish line of the biggest marathon in the world they know they can achieve anything. They become role models within their communities and are leaders in the promotion of health and physical exercise to help alleviate the high instance of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.”
Qantas’ Reconciliation Action Plan is a commitment to reconciliation and building relationships for change between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. The Plan, first launched in 2007, was awarded Elevate status in July 2015, the highest level of endorsement by Reconciliation Australia.
Since 2010, there have been 43 graduates of IMF, all of whom have contributed in some way to creating change in their lives and those of their families and communities. By 2018, there will be over 80 graduates.
The 2015 Indigenous Marathon Foundation squad of ten young Indigenous Australians will fly to New York on 29th October to run in this year’s marathon.
image credit Qantas