Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

A contingent of local Elders from Uralla, Armidale and Walcha are asking for the community to help support their journey to Kempsey for the Elders Olympics in May.

The annual event has been an important health and social initiative for over 20 years, however funding constraints from one of the major sponsors, HealthWISE, has resulted in a massive cost blowout for the Elders.

Aunty Pam Meehan has been attending the Elders Olympics for over a decade.

“The funding we have relied on in the past is just not available now: the major sponsor (HealthWISE) has pulled out this year, so we need to cover more of the costs ourselves”, said Aunty Pam

“The most expensive things are hiring a bus and a driver, and the accommodation. Then there is the $750 team registration fee before we even get there.”

The ‘Mountain A-team’ comprises 15 members from Armidale, Uralla and Walcha, with carers and support staff also required to attend the gathering to assist the more frail members in making the journey. Aunty Pam said the group needed to raise in excess of $15,000 to cover return bus travel, accommodation and meals, team shirts and team entry fee for 20 people.

The Elders Olympics is an important social and cultural event for Elders and their communities. Not only is there a strong focus on developing, maintaining and strengthening friendships with other indigenous communities across NSW, but there is also opportunity to keep traditional games alive in an environment that encourages physical activity and healthy lifestyles.

There is also a serious nature to the weekend, with a range of health stalls providing access to essential health checks, such as diabetes and blood pressure. The message can then be echoed by the Elders through their community to promote the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and good health.

With Anaiwan Elder and Uralla local, Aunty Pam, assuming the role of chief organiser, most of the current fundraising has been contributed solely from the Uralla community. The Rotary Club of Uralla has been a major contributor, as has Meralli Solar, the Uralla Co-op, Uralla Bowlo, the Uralla Golf Club and Armidale Ex-Servies (in partnership), as well as their takings from the Uralla Street Store fundraiser.

ACEN Australia, who operate the New England Solar renewable energy project in Uralla, have been contacted for financial assistance through their Social Investment Program.

“We’re currently looking at options to support the Elders Olympics delegation, after being approached for assistance last week,” said Community Engagement and Communication specialist for New England Solar, Scott Green.

Uralla Shire Council General Manager, Ms Toni Averay, said Uralla Council was very happy to be able to help the team achieve their goal.

“Council resolved to help fund Uralla Shire members of the Combined Aboriginal Elders Group to attend the 2024 Elders Olympics in Kempsey with a contribution of $300 towards transport and accommodation costs,” said Ms Averay.

“We hope this also inspires others in the Northern New England area to get behind the team, noting that the Combined Group includes representatives from across the North-West region.”

“ We wish all the participants the best of luck for the event!”

Uralla is a small town with a big heart, and the community has made a valuable contribution to help the local Elders attend this culturally significant event.

“Most of the support has come from (Uralla), but we need to also get more support from the other areas, Armidale and Walcha, so we can all help each other get to Kempsey for the games,” said Aunty Pam.

If you can help sponsor the ‘Mountain A-team’ to get to Kempsey for the Elders Olympics please contact Aunty Pam Meehan on (0429) 916 324.

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