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Swimming program for Indigenous children secures top honour at Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards

Swimming program for Indigenous children secures top honour at Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards
July 28, 2023

A program that set out to increase the number of Aboriginal children learning swimming and water safety has been named as the overall winner of the 2023 Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards.

Presented yesterday at the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention in Melbourne, the Bambigi initiative, a charity organisation set up by teenager Piper Stewart, won first in the Young Innovator category before then securing the top award among 12 categories.

Bambigi, which means ‘to swim’ in Wiradjuri, the traditional Aboriginal language in the NSW town of Griffith, was created by Stewart at the age of 12 years when noticed that there was a need for to Aboriginal people to have access to essential skills and knowledge to be safer in and around water and reduce their drowning risk.

The Bambigi project sets out to fund a series of lessons for Aboriginal children of all ages including preschool, school age and teenage boys as a local solution to a national and global issue.

The Award was presented to Stewart by Patrick Walker, Chief Executive of the  Australian Sports Foundation as part of this year’s NSC Oration.

With the largest ever number of submissions this year, all of the Award winners were commended for their exceptionally high standards.

Each category winner received a trophy and was then judged for the opportunity to be crowned the overall Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Award winner.

Each category winner received a trophy and was then judged for the opportunity to be crowned the overall Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Award winner. 

1. Programs and Activities
Innovative programs, activities and events that have been developed to encourage the community to be more active.
• Monash City Council (Active Monash) - Active Communities Program

2. Sport and Inclusion
How sport can make a difference to an inclusive society and how inclusion can grow participation in play, recreation and community sport.
• North Queensland Sports Foundation - Move it NQ

3. Social Value of Participation
Measuring the impact that participation has on the health, economic and community value of a community.
• SportWest - Sport in Western Australia: Social Return On Investment

4. Marketing ans Communications
The communication messages that innovatively activates the community for more people to be active, play, recreate and participate in community sport.
• parkrun Australia - Women and girls of parkrun

5. Young Innovator of the Year
A young person (under 25) who has developed a program, space, activity, technological solution or innovative partnership that is encouraging more people to be active.
• Piper Stewart - Bambigi - Making aboriginal kids deadly swimmers

6. Major Event Promotion
Providing community opportunities to increase participation by aligning a mass participation or a major spectator event.
• Wollongong City Council - Host City - 2022 UCI Road World Championships, Bike Bike City

7. Technology
Innovations in technology that support Business to Business (B2B) improvements for the industry or Business to Consumer (B2C) experiences.
• Chicks Who Ride Bikes - Mobile app development

8. Sport and Leisure Facility Design
Innovative design and management that creates an environment where more people are active (built and natural environments), whilst embracing the principles of sustainability.
• Brimbank City Council/ William Ross Architects - Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre

9. Sports Surfaces
Innovative solutions that allow greater intensity and durability of natural, hybrid, synthetic or hard sports surfaces to allow for greater usage, whilst embracing the principles of sustainability.
• element Sports Turf Solutions - H3 Hybrid Turf

10. Sport and Climate Change
Innovations that organisations have embraced that recognise the impact that sport can have on climate change and how they have focused on reducing their carbon footprint.
• South Australia Aquatic and Leisure Centre - Waste Reduction & Energy Saving Strategy - The Y 

11. Playground Design
Designs and developments that allow and encourage more children to play, have fun and be active.
• Richmond Valley Council & Urban Play - Crawford Square Playground - Casino, NSW

12. Community Sports Fundraising
Innovative and community fundraising projects which enable increased participation and community cohesion. Made possible by the Australian Sports Foundation
• Surfing Victoria - Victorian Indigenous Surfing Program

The Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards have been part of the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention (NSC) since 2016.

The NSC has grown since 2016 as Australia/New Zealand’s largest and most prominent community sport and recreation convention and expo attracting over 1,500 people annually.

Image: Piper Stewart teaching a part of the Bambigi program.

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10th March 2023 - Group announced to steer Australia’s first sector codesigned National Sport Participation Strategy

18th November 2022 - Brimbank Aquatic and Wellness Centre ensures sensory inclusivity

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