.

  • Written by Rona Macniven, Research Fellow, University of Sydney
Sports have long been seen as a way to improve outcomes in Indigenous communities, but more research is needed to structure better programs. Paul Miller/AAP

Indigenous Australians have a long and proud heritage in both traditional sports and games, and in modern sport through the achievements of people like Johnathan Thurston and Ashleigh Barty.

There’s also long been the belief that sport can be used as a lever for improvement in outcomes for Indigenous communities. The 1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, for instance, found that sport and recreation can play a role in the reduction of offending behaviour among Indigenous peoples.


Read more: In both schooling and sport, Australia has slowly come to recognise its Aboriginal talent pool


And while there are a number of physical activity and sports programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people today, a parliamentary inquiry in 2013 recommended that much more comprehensive evaluation of sports programs should be conducted to gauge their impact.

The report said some government sports programs

are being rolled out with very little understanding of how the Close the Gap outcomes are being achieved.

Another study noted that sport has often been seen as a “panacea” for myriad problems in Indigenous communities, and this belief has led to

ambitious, ill-defined and, in terms of evaluation, often elusive social outcome goals.

What could sport achieve?

To better understand the impact sport can have on Indigenous communities and how government investment could be better targeted, we undertook a review of 20 Australian studies published in peer-reviewed journals between 2003 and 2018.

The research looked at how sport and physical activity programs for Indigenous adults or children improved outcomes in six different areas:

1) education 2) employment 3) culture 4) social and emotional well-being 5) life skills 6) crime reduction

Because of the low level of evidence in this area so far, we included all relevant studies. The 20 studies involved over 2,500 individual participants located in urban, rural and remote areas across Australia.

Our review, which was published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, found some evidence that sport and physical activity increases Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander school attendance, improves self-esteem and can enhance cultural connectedness, values and identity.

But the studies were inconclusive on whether sport and physical activity can have longer-term benefits, such as improving educational or employment outcomes or reducing crime.


Read more: The long and complicated history of Aboriginal involvement in football


Education

Eleven of the studies we reviewed examined education. Overall, most showed positive outcomes for young people involved in sport.

A number of programs were shown to improve school attendance, such as two AFL youth programs in Cape York and the Northern Territory aimed at encouraging school attendance and improving behaviour through Australian rules football.

Other programs showed improvements in school retention and achievement rates, while two helped Indigenous youth prepare for higher education and success beyond school.

Employment

Only one study examined the impact of sport on employment: the AFL youth program in the NT. Almost all of the participants and stakeholders felt the program helped players to secure paid work or training, but the study didn’t link to employment data specifically.

Culture

Nine studies examined culture. And like education, most programs showed positive outcomes for participants when it came to cultural connections, values and identity.

For example, in Victoria, the Fitzroy Stars community sports club study found that social and community connection was an important way for participants to strengthen and maintain their cultural values and identity.

And the study on the impact of the Swan Nyungar sports education program for young people in Perth found the success of participants depended on incorporating their families and culture in the instruction.

Social and emotional well-being

Twelve studies examined social and emotional well-being. Improved self-esteem and confidence were found in the participants of several programs, such as the WA Girls Academy and Indigenous surfing programs in several states.

A study of Queensland’s Deadly Choices program, which aims to help Indigenous people make healthier lifestyle choices, found that participants had increased confidence and were more proactive about preventing chronic disease.

Life skills

Five studies examined “life skills.” The positive outcomes ranged from improved attitudes and lifestyle choices ([the AFL Cape York program]) to hygiene and health, self-reliance and fundraising skills (the WA Girls Academy).

Crime

Only five studies examined the impact of sport on crime prevention and prison inmate management, and the findings were limited.

The Aboriginal Power Cup, another youth football program in South Australia, was found to have positive impacts when it came to school achievement, but the study didn’t directly examine aspects of crime.

A study into a prison sport program in central Australia found that it was an effective diversion for inmates, but there were only six participants in the study, which is not a very robust sample size.

Meanwhile, the impact of the NT AFL program on community safety and violence was unclear, as was the impact of a sports program in Arnhem Land that aimed to steer Indigenous youth away from substance abuse.

This is a key challenge for researchers in this area – identifying the specific impacts of sport and physical activity programs on societal problems such as crime in which many factors come into play.


Read more: Radical rethink of Closing the Gap required, despite some progress


More evidence is needed

Substantial challenges remain in accurately measuring how sports programs like these can lead to better outcomes for Indigenous communities. Scoping reviews, for instance, do not include an assessment of study quality and therefore may overestimate the findings.

More studies are needed to track the impact of sport through a range of indicators. We also still need to know more about how programs can improve employment and crime outcomes.

With more robust evidence, a more targeted plan can be made for future programs that are better suited to the needs of individual communities.

John Evans receives funding from the Australian Research Council

Rachel Wilson receives funding from the ARC

Rona Macniven does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Authors: Rona Macniven, Research Fellow, University of Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/are-sports-programs-closing-the-gap-in-indigenous-communities-the-evidence-is-limited-120413

Why Small Businesses Should Invest in a Point of Sale App

Throughout the modern era, there have been an innumerable amount of changes to our society; many of which have been brought about by web-based technologies. The Internet has continually changed our ...

News Company - avatar News Company

Your Airbnb guest could be a tenant. Until the law is cleared up, hosts are in limbo

A Victorian court decision that an Airbnb agreement had the status of a lease has profound implications for guests and hosts. Daniel Krason/ShutterstockWith summer holidays around the corner, many Vic...

Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University - avatar Bill John Swannie, Lecturer in College of Law and Justice, Victoria University

5 reasons I always get children picture books for Christmas

Children who love being read to are more likely to find learning to read easier. from shutterstock.comChristmas is just around the corner. If you’re wondering what to get your child, your friend...

Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra - avatar Kym Simoncini, Associate professor Early Childhood and Primary Education, University of Canberra

Tough nuts: why peanuts trigger such powerful allergic reactions

The humble peanut. Tasty for most, treacherous for some. Dr Dwan Price, Author providedFood allergens are the scourge of the modern school lunchbox. Many foods contain proteins that can set off an ove...

Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University - avatar Dwan Price, Molecular Biologist and Postdoc @ Deakin AIRwatch pollen monitoring system., Deakin University

Must end soon! But not too soon! The catch in time-limited sales tactics

Time-limited offers leverage risk-aversion. That is, the more you dislike risk, the more likely it is you will take the bait and buy now. www.shutterstock.comAs Christmas shopping ramps up, you may be...

Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland - avatar Daniel Zizzo, Professor and Academic Dean of the School of Economics, The University of Queensland

Refugees without secure visas have poorer mental health – but the news isn't all bad

Refugees without permanent visas can experience a prolonged sense of insecurity and displacement. From shutterstock.comThere are more than 29.4 million forcibly displaced asylum seekers and refugees a...

Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW - avatar Yulisha Byrow, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UNSW

God made the rainbow: why the Bible welcomes every colour in the gender spectrum

The Bible affirms, in various ways, the inclusion of those who diverge from male-female gender norms. ShutterstockThis article is part of a series exploring gender and Christianity “God made ...

Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity - avatar Robyn J. Whitaker, Senior Lecturer in New Testament, Pilgrim Theological College, University of Divinity

Jojo Rabbit: Hitler humour and a child's eye view of war make for dark satire

Jojo's allegiances in the film are split between an imagined friends and a real hideaway. Fox SearchlightJojo Rabbit is not Disney Studios’ first foray into Hitler parody. In 1943, it produced ...

Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney - avatar Benjamin Nickl, Lecturer in International Comparative Literature and Translation Studies, University of Sydney

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it becomes ongoing and keeps posing new challenges to us. Of course, it may seem easy from some perspe...

Diana Smith - avatar Diana Smith

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas presents for everybody on your checklist. Christmas is now here, and if that you haven't got a hop on ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Ultimate Guide to Sneakers and Sneaker Brands

When it comes to finding the perfect pair of sneakers, it can be hard to know where to start. Finding the right pair for any kind of occasion can be difficult, so brushing up on your knowledge of sn...

News Company - avatar News Company

Conservative landslide at UK's Brexit election; Trump's ratings rise on strong US economy

Led by Boris Johnson, the Conservatives won 56% of the vote and will have an 80-seat majority. AAP/EPA/ VIckie FloresAt the December 12 UK election, the Conservatives won 365 of the 650 House of Commo...

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne - avatar Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

Johnson's thumping win an electoral lesson in not just having policies, but knowing how to sell them

With Johnson's crushing win, Brexit will now happen. But this may also be the start of the break-up of the UK. AAP/EPA/Vickie FloresSo for all the talk of narrowing polls, tactical voting, and possib...

Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol - avatar Simon Tormey, Professor of Politics, University of Bristol

View from The Hill: Morrison won't have a bar of public service intrusions on government's power

Scott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the long-awaited Thodey review. AAP/Paul BravenScott Morrison has rejected or sidelined a number of recommendations from the l...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

VIDEO: Michelle Grattan reflects on the year in politics

For their last video for the year, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini and Michelle Grattan look backwards to the big issues which have shaped political discourse. They discuss the surpr...

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra - avatar Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Choosing a Heavy Weighted Bathmats

Decorating your bathroom doesn’t finish with the paint choice or tile colours. You can change the whole room with the change of your towel set. There are no rules that say that you need to have a ...

News Company - avatar News Company

God as man, man as God: no wonder many Christian men today are having a masculinity crisis

How men saw God shaped how they saw themselves, and in turn, how they saw women. WikimediaThis article is part of our Gender and Christianity series. To understand contemporary Christian ideas about...

William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University - avatar William Loader, Emeritus Professor of New Testament at Murdoch University, Murdoch University

Australia needs a national crisis plan, and not just for bushfires

Bushfires aren't the only catastrophic emergency Australia is likely to see. AAP Image/Mick TsikasCalls are growing for a national bushfire plan, including from former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull...

Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University - avatar Andrew Gissing, General Manager, Risk Frontiers, Adjunct Fellow, Macquarie University

Your Christmas shopping could harm or help the planet. Which will it be?

Many Australian consumers are concerned at the environmental impact of their shopping habits, especially at Christmas. AAPAustralian shoppers are set to spend $52.7 billion this Christmas. In the word...

Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania - avatar Louise Grimmer, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Tasmanian School of Business and Economics, University of Tasmania

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company

LifeStyle

Boosting Your Child’s Learning through Play

Being a parent is probably the highest responsibility one has in a lifetime. Once it happens, it...

Different ideas of Christmas Gifts to give to your beloved ones

"CHRISTMAS GIFTS – one of the best festival gifts to give to your closed ones. Find Christmas pr...

How to Have a Peaceful Retirement

Retirement is the time to treat yourself after a lifetime of working, to complete your bucket list...

Latest Wednesday Lotto Results

Wednesday Lotto draw 3917 Lucky numbers for this draw were 43 followed by 25. The rest of the...