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Fiji and Australia welcome UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace

2 December 2013
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UN Special Adviser visits Cricket Fiji on Oceania & Pacific mission

Canberra (UNIC & UNOSDP) – Social inclusion, health education and sport aid programmes have been at the centre of the UN Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace’s visit to the Oceania region.

Visiting sporting initiatives in Australia, Fiji and New Zealand, Mr Lemke has discussed the role of sport in fostering development and peace with government, the not-for-profit community and private sector representatives.

Mr Lemke is currently visiting the region for the 2013 Pacific Youth and Sports Conference in New Caledonia this week.

In Canberra, the UN Secretary-General's Special Adviser spoke with the Australian Sport Commission and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

He also met with Australian NGOs focusing on development through sport including Child Fund, SurfAID and Sport Matters in Sydney.

Child Fund and Sport Matters are currently working with the Lao Rugby Federation on a joint initiative that teaches leadership and life skills through organised sport. SurfAID works in the isolated communities of the Mentawai Islands of Indonesia on health and emergency preparedness, connected to Australia through surf tourism.

The Special Advisor spoke to students from indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds participating in the League and Harmony programme of the National Rugby League and visited the Australian Football League (AFL) to exchange about the cooperate social responsibility programme.

Delivering a speech at the University of New South Wales, Mr Lemke spoke about the importance of programmes like Football United's work with migrants and refugees in Sydney.

"Football United is one of the few programmes in Australia that has proven to enhance social inclusion of refugees, migrants and low socio-economic status children and youth in school settings," Mr Lemke said.

As one of the Special Adviser's priorities, the development of youth leaders are crucial to the progression of communities and the installation of positive social change and values.

“It is such a pleasure to see such a sport loving nation embrace the Sport for Development and Peace movement. Australia has highlighted its great ambition to deepen its routes in its approach to achieve development goals, and I would encourage the Australian Government to continue their support for the promotion and development of SDP projects.”

During his visit to Fiji, Cricket Fiji showed Mr Lemke their Inclusive Cricket Programme in action, inviting him to a Sports Fun Day with the Fiji Vocational Technical Training Centre (FVTTC) for persons with disabilities. As another priority of the Special Adviser, the inclusion of those with a disability in sport is an essential part of their development of motor and social skills. “The integration of those with a disability is crucial for their development. It is our responsibility to make sure these sports men and women are at the centre of sports policy and education.”

Following his visit of the FVTTC, Mr Lemke was extremely pleased with what he had observed and praised them for an excellent sport initiative that caters for the abilities of the participants. “This project strengthens the value of sport for the integration of those with a disability into society.”

He also met with the Fiji Olympic Committee's Stop HIV/Aids Sports Training Outreach Programme to discuss their work in health education of athletes around the country. This innovative method uses young national sport persons to provide sport sessions aimed at educating schools and sport clubs on HIV/Aids prevention.

In New Zealand, the Special Adviser will met with the National Paralympic Committee, International Netball Federation and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

He also plans to visit the Kiwi-Kicks Saturday morning WYNERS soccer programme for children aged between 5 and 11.

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