An invitation to be part of the Working Group to develop Netball Australia’s first Reconciliation Action Plan had West Coast Fever defender Josie Janz-Dawson jumping at the chance to be involved in the process.
As the only Torres Strait Islander playing in the ANZ Championship, Janz-Dawson knows implementing the RAP will have benefits not just for the sport in general, but also with Indigenous communities across Australia.
“I think it will encourage more people to create inclusive environments within their netball clubs and improve the number of Indigenous people participating in netball,” Janz-Dawson said.
“Netball can be much more than running around in a skirt for 60 minutes.
“Netball can be powerful by encouraging our mob to lead a healthy lifestyle, being connected, giving you a sense of pride and belonging, break down cultural barriers, work alongside like-minded people, allow you to be united in a family and also having the opportunity to be mentored by positive people.
“Developing a Reconciliation Action Plan will ensure that all our state netball bodies have a better understanding about creating inclusive environments and acknowledge the rich history and culture that our mob identifies with.”
Janz-Dawson has been joined on the RAP Working Group by former Australian international players Sharon Finnan OAM and Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM, and former Australian 21/U representative Melina Saunders (all pictured right).
Not only is Janz-Dawson a leading player in the world’s best netball competition, off the court she is passionate about working in the Indigenous area.
She is an Australia Post One Netball Ambassador and is the Deadly Sista Girlz National Program Manager for the David Wirrpanda Foundation.
Netball Australia CEO Kate Palmer is excited to have the input of past players – along with prominent Aboriginal community identities – in developing the RAP.
“Netball aims to cater for Australia’s diverse and changing population, and to ensure that all Australians have an opportunity to be involved in netball in a way that brings them good health, recognition, achievement, enjoyment and sense of belonging,” Palmer said.
“Initiatives of the Reconciliation Action Plan will apply a course of action to specifically address the identified needs of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in order to increase participation and involvement in netball, from the grassroots to the elite levels.”
With Sydney hosting this year’s Netball World Cup, Janz-Dawson said it was an opportunity to showcase the rich heritage of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.
“It’s about being able to share our culture with everyone who travels far and wide for netball,” she said.
“Long before the name ‘Australia’ and netball dresses, there were many Aboriginal tribes that acknowledged the living spirit in the country.
“You can go to many sacred places around Australia and actually feel both overwhelmed with emotion and also the deep sense of connectedness to the country. Even if you are not Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, if you call Australia home you are living with the connected spirit of our Nation’s First People and it’s important to acknowledge and respect that.”