The University of Newcastle, Australia

Ikara-Flinders Ranges | A Tough Challenge for a Courageous Cause

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

In September, up to 30 volunteer staff, students, alumni and community members will walk together, trekking 100km of the arid heart of the South Australian outback.

Together the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge team aims to raise over $100,000 which will support Indigenous students facing hardship, and Indigenous health research projects.

National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June) is a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements. It’s also a time to explore how each of us can contribute to achieving reconciliation in Australia. This year’s theme is Grounded in Truth: Walk Together with Courage.

It’s widely known that Indigenous Australians face unfair challenges, including widespread socioeconomic disadvantage and health inequality. Indigenous Australians, compared to non-Indigenous Australians, are nearly three times more likely to smoke, experience high/very high levels of psychological distress and have long term ear or hearing problems in children. They are around twice as likely to die before their fifth birthday, be born with a low birth weight or have a disability or long-term health condition1.

“We know that education has a key role in the empowerment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through health, employment and other aspects of Aboriginal well being. Sadly, Indigenous Australians are currently significantly under-represented in Australian universities”, says Nat McGregor, Chief Operating Officer.

Our University has a long history as a leader in equity, social justice and Indigenous education, with more than 1,000 Indigenous enrolments and the second largest number of Indigenous staff of any Australian university.

“Organising the Ikara-Flinders Ranges Challenge is just one of the University’s wide range of important initiatives demonstrating our active commitment to closing the gap and improving the lives of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians”, says Nat.

This Challenge builds on the lasting impact of the University’s last Challenge trek in 2017, the Larapinta Trail Challenge. Over 950 donors generously gave their support, raising an incredible $152,432 for:

* 15 Indigenous student scholarships for bright students facing hardship

* 3 Indigenous student PhD scholarships for emerging leaders, and

* 2 health research projects – MAMAS Empower Health app for Indigenous mothers and Improving foot health outcomes for Aboriginal Australians with diabetes. You can read more about the funds impact here.

This is the second time Nat will take on a Trekking Challenge.

Personally, I’ve decided to pull out the trekking boots again after witnessing the amazing life-changing impacts the funds raised created for Indigenous education and health research from the University’s last Challenge trek. I want to continue to improve lives and actively support reconciliation between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

100% of all donations go to supporting Indigenous education and health research. If you can, please support Nat and his fellow trekkers here.

  1. Australia’s Institute of Health and Welfare
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