Aspire4Life supports the Elder Olympics in Nelson Bay

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders warming up before Elders Olympics

There was much laughing, cheering and yarning at Tomaree Sports Complex on 4 May as more than three hundred Elders came together in Nelson Bay for a series of friendly but fierce sporting contests.

The Elders Olympics were established in 2001 with an aim of connecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders across New South Wales, all the while promoting health, fitness and emotional wellbeing. Each year, the Olympics see teams of Elders aged 50 and over come together for friendly competition and a celebration of healthy living.

The role of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders are indispensable in their communities as they guard, promote, and sustain customs and principles. Beyond that, Elders are also vital to Australia as a whole – they are custodians of the traditions that First Nations peoples have lived by for thousands of years.

Unfortunately due to COVID-19, Elders in the community had been missing out on the event since the pandemic outbreak – but 2023 brought back the Olympics bigger and better than before.

This year’s Olympics were hosted by the Worimi Nation after winning the last event, and the experience did not disappoint. Elders from 28 Nations – including Biripi, Birpai, Awabakal, Darkinjung, Dunghutti, Gumbangiir, Gandangara and Gamilaroi – converged to compete in a range of sporting events such as bean bag throwing, netball hoops, hockey, walking races, and even an egg and spoon race.

Dubbed as a modern-day corrobboree, the Olympics have been an invaluable opportunity to foster friendship between Aboriginal Elders from tribes and clans across the state, and Aspire4Life was lucky enough to be able to support such an important event.

Aspire4Life stall at Elders Olympics

Aspire4Life stall at Elders Olympics

Aspire4Life cheered on gold-winners from the side

Setting up our stall in the heart of it all, Aspire4Life team members had the chance to connect with participants and attendees alike, and pass on valuable information about My Aged Care eligibility, registration status, and other support availability.

Keiren Freeman, Regional Service Assessor at Aspire4Life, said:

“Aspire4Life has recently established a Reconciliation Action Plan, and we had members of staff who identified as First Nations present at the Olympics. This made our presence at the event all the more special, as we were able to offer advice and support to community members in a more trusted way.”

With many My Aged Care brochures and materials on hand, Aspire4Life was of real value to those looking for aged care services for themselves or family members. Not to mention experiencing the fun of the day!

“It was fabulous to see people of varying abilities compete with one another – some using mobility aids, some supported by friends and teammates, but truly giving it their all,” Keiren said.

Aspire4Life team members at Elders Olypmics

Aspire4Life team members at Elders Olypmics

Coming together matters

Even former chair of the NSW Aboriginal Land Council and lead organiser of the event, Aunty Bev Manton mentioned how great it was to see all the Elders together after such a long time.

“To see everyone just talk so happily and being cheerful together talking about what has happened in their lives in the last couple of years since they last saw each other was just so beautiful,” said Ms Manton.

The Olympics are an important way to recognise our Elders and the contribution they make to our communities across Australia, and here at Aspire4Life we are honoured to have attended the day. Elders are the lifeblood of our communities, and events such as the Elders Olympics not only pay respects to these wonderful people, but give them the opportunity to come together and connect across tribes.

Congratulations to this year’s winners, the Dunghutti Nation – we are looking forward to attending the Elders Olympics next year in Kempsey.

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