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Piper Wins National Leadership Award | Royal Life Saving Society | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


Published 29 July 2023

A young Indigenous woman who has made swimming lessons accessible to hundreds of Aboriginal children has been given top honours at the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention.

Piper Stewart, 17, not only won the Young Innovator of the Year but also the convention’s most prestigious award for the highest contribution nationally to leadership in sports and physical activity.

Aged just 12, Ms Stewart formed Bambigi, which means “to swim” in Wiradjuri the Aboriginal language in Griffith and set about fundraising to give local Aboriginal children access to swimming and water safety lessons. More than 300 children have benefited so far from the program with access to lessons and equipment including swimming cap and goggles.

Announcing the top award, the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention curator Martin Sheppard said that Ms Stewart was “the type of leader that our industry needs more of”.

Ms Stewart was nominated by Royal Life Saving Society – Australia for her outstanding efforts and her tireless work to improve water safety outcomes for Indigenous young people.

Ms Stewart said she was honoured to have won the award and thanked the National Sports and Physical Activity Convention for the award and the Royal Life Saving Society – Australia for the nomination.

“By winning this award, I hope I can help raise awareness of the importance of swimming and water safety education, particularly for groups who miss out or cannot afford access, like the Aboriginal kids in Griffith,” Ms Stewart said.

“Aboriginal people are four times more likely to drowning that non-indigenous Australians, so Bambigi was established to ensure no child misses out on swimming and water safety lessons.

“I encourage governments, industry and peak bodies to work together to ensure that all kids, particularly Aboriginal kids, are able to afford and have access to swimming and water safety lessons nationwide.”

Royal Life Saving’s National Manager – Education Penny Larsen said Ms Stewart was inspirational.

“Piper has been an inspiration not only for her local Aboriginal community but for other youth leaders and the broader aquatic industry,” Ms Larsen said.

“Research into the swimming and water safety skills of children highlighted that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, those from low-socio economic, rural and remote communities are most likely to miss out on a swimming and water safety education.

“Piper observed the barriers that stopped Aboriginal children from accessing swimming and water safety and she stepped in to remove those barriers. We are so impressed with her efforts to make a real difference to the community. She has achieved so much already, and we can’t wait to see what is next for Piper.”

Bambigi funds six months of swimming lessons for Aboriginal kids in the Griffith region. We have also supported Wiradjuri Preschool kids to learn to swim and the Tirkandi Inaburra boys learn about water safety.

To learn more about Bambigi, visit https://www.bambigi.org/about

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