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Posted by Christine Armishaw on 10/01/2020.

AOC and Olympians Focused on Helping Communities Recover From Bushfires

The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has committed to supporting communities devastated by this summer’s severe bushfires with immediate direct support and a program to help communities recover.

The AOC’s support will be delivered in two phases, an immediate $100,000 contribution to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal and a longer, ongoing commitment to support the rebuilding of communities as the impact of the bushfires becomes better known.

In making this announcement, AOC President John Coates AC said the Olympic Movement in Australia is well placed to make a substantial contribution in the recovery phase, as devastated communities re-build their lives in the many months ahead.

“Australians have rallied to help the immediate needs of the volunteer fire brigade and communities. Individuals, including many Olympians, as well as organisations have contributed generously to assist families, communities and the many agencies that support them.  

“The Olympic Movement places sport at the service of the community, so we believe we can make a valuable contribution as people in our towns and smaller centres look to rebuild community spirit and purpose, as well as the physical necessities.

“The power of sport to bring hope and inspiration is something every Olympian holds dear and the overwhelming message that we have from Olympians is that they want to help with recovery in any way they can.”

Mr Coates says the AOC has consciously focussed on an action plan that will help communities during the long-term recovery. Essential elements of the plan include:

  • Community outreach through “Olympics Unleashed” and other community programs with Olympians visiting affected schools and communities devastated by fire;
  • Coordinating and galvanising efforts of the Australian Olympic family of 44 sports in supporting local clubs and schools for their long-term recovery;
  • Establishing a sports equipment fund to assist sports and communities re-build in fire affected areas;
  • During the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, taking live celebrations and Olympians directly to fire affected areas to lift community spirits during the recovery process.

AOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matt Carroll says the Olympic Movement is keen to work hand in glove with State, Territory and Federal Governments in assisting the broader recovery efforts.

“The establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency is a welcome initiative and the Olympic Movement is saying we are here to help. The Olympic spirit is all about resilience, giving back and creating a positive legacy, so we will feel we can contribute, along with our member sports and generous partners.

“For more than a year now, Olympians have been travelling to schools around Australia with positive messages of self-belief, goal setting and resilience. These will be important messages in the time ahead for those hard-hit areas. With the support of our partner, Optus, we will use Olympics Unleashed to help kids and their families rebuild their lives.

“Sport is at the heart of our communities and many sports clubs themselves in our towns will need assistance to recover. The Olympic sports will be working to support clubs, schools and families. This will include replacement of lost equipment necessary to play their different sports. So, the Olympic Movement will be establishing a fund to ensure participation in sport will play a part in helping communities recover.”

Mr Carroll said the AOC was also working on opportunities for affected communities to be able to come together as one during the Tokyo Olympic Games to celebrate the inspiration of our Australian athletes.

“So many of our Olympians come from areas that have been affected or are still under threat. These are the communities where they grew up, went to school and where many of them still live and have family and friends.

“In the same way that every Olympian has tremendous pride in representing Australia in their chosen sport, they also remember the communities who nurtured them to become the champions they are today.

“The simple fact is we are all connected. As Australians, we are all in this together, which is why the AOC is also looking to ensure those areas can really enjoy the Games and the great community lift Olympics can produce,” Mr Carroll concluded.  

For further information: Strath Gordon 0414 266638   

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