COMMUNITY GOAL: The federal government funding will go towards UNE hosting a wide-range of free sports and physical activity programs. Photo: Ellen Dunger

COMMUNITY GOAL: The federal government funding will go towards UNE hosting a wide-range of free sports and physical activity programs. Photo: Ellen Dunger

Funds to help region score more opportunities for inclusion

University of New England receives $204,000 Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity grant

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UNE to benefit from federal government grant funding.

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A $204,000 federal government grant is set to help the region's sports become more accessible to the community.

The University of New England (UNE) will benefit from the government's Driving Social Inclusion through Sport and Physical Activity program, which will help the uni co-ordinate free programs across a wide variety of sports.

New England MP Barnaby Joyce said the initiative would help local refugees and migrants access "free, flexible, ability and age-appropriate physical activity in 2020-2021."

"UNE was identified as serving an important role in bridging the divide and encouraging social inclusion across New England," Mr Joyce said.

"This organisation and others like it continue to play a vital role as we strive toward being more inclusive.

"It breaks down the barriers and gets people to communicate and we hope that this money assists in that process by the creation of infrastructure and the creation of community."

UNE health and physical education lecturer Dr Kristy O'Neill said she was thrilled her institution could take part in the program.

"I'm incredibly excited to have secured this opportunity for the Armidale community," Dr O'Neill said.

"I think there are so many benefits, particularly for a regional area to have free, flexible open access for everyone in the community to engage with grassroots sport.

"There's so many holistic health benefits physically, mentally and socially."

Dr O'Neill said the Armidale region's cultural diversity left it in a prime position to take part in the program.

"We are so diverse for a regional area and that's why I thought when this grant came up it would be a fantastic opportunity for Armidale to bring more of us together in a socially inclusive way," she said.

"We are aiming to be quite broad in what we offer, particularly in swimming lessons because water safety is so important in an Australian context.

"As well as things like gym classes, fitness classes and potentially some group sports and physical activities as well."

The nation-wide initiative attracted more than 850 applications and due to restrictions implemented by the COVID-19 pandemic, successful applicants have been given an extension to 2022 to allow for group sports.

The story Funds to help region score more opportunities for inclusion first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.

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