Griffith University is solidifying itself as a 2032 legacy leader following exceptional representation and involvement at the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC) conference last month.

The annual event invited key stakeholders from the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Australia to explore key issues, best practice, and the latest innovations across high performance, coaching, sport science, and talent identification.

Showcasing collaborative initiatives across Griffith including Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith Institute for Tourism, Inclusive Futures, the Sustainability Sub-Committee and Griffith Sports College’s Elite Athlete Program, the university’s support behind transforming the physical performances of Pacific athletes ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Games was explicit.

Associate Professor Clare Minahan helped lead discussions around culturally inclusive initiatives through Griffith’s global sport program GAPS, developed in close partnership with the Commonwealth Games Federation.

Associate Professor Minahan said GAPS represents a remarkable fusion of performance pathways, social justice and sports diplomacy.

“This seamless integration has inspired unprecedented success of athletes and para-sport athletes from Least Developed Countries at international sporting events,” she said.

Jo Drake, Kelsey Wotherspoon, Naomi McCarthy at Griffith’s exhibition booth.

“The GAPS sports program serves as a beacon of hope in Oceania transforming lives and inspiring a new generation of athletes and para-sport athletes, all while promoting fundamental principles of excellence, equity, and cultural exchange.”

Awareness and support for those navigating a new landscape was a particular priority item raised at the conference with emphasis on stakeholders to immerse themselves in understanding culture.

Associate Professor Minahan said the Griffith GAPS team will be travelling to Samoa and Fiji in 2023 to deliver the first of the GAPS Oceania.

“The V26 camps will see coaches from all over Oceania invited to participate in development workshops and practical performance sessions such as strength and conditioning,” she said.

Dr Caroline Riot, who sat at the helm of the conference panel ‘unleashing para-sport potential’, said a key takeaway from the event’s discussions was athletes and sport organisations in-country must be at the heart of the work.

“We need to go to the islands rather than expect the islands to always come to us,” she said.

“Support in-country shows we care.”

Dame Valerie Adams (New Zealand) speaking on the Athlete Panel.

Associate Professor Jennifer Boddy participated in an additional session from the event series around environmental sustainability the ‘Oceania Sport and SDGs Strategic Partners Forum’, having since submitted a report to UNWomen representatives.

“The importance of sport in progressing sustainable development goals and encouraging a united front on climate action is clear,” she said.

“Much of the forum discussion was around the importance of interdisciplinary partnerships to advance this work and the need for data-driven, evidence-informed decision making.”

Griffith has proven to be a strong leader in collaborative climate research evidenced by the impactful work of interdisciplinary groups such as the Climate Action Beacon and Pacific Hub.

Strong engagement with ONOC’s ‘Step Up Oceania’ Conference is a testament to Griffith’s commitment in delivering sustainable development and innovative sporting strategies for Pacific Island athletes.

10: Reduced Inequalities
UN Sustainable Development Goals 10: Reduced Inequalities

11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
UN Sustainable Development Goals 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

17: Partnerships for the Goals
UN Sustainable Development Goals 17: Partnerships for the Goals

3: Good Health and Well-being
UN Sustainable Development Goals 3: Good Health and Well-being

7: Affordable and Clean Energy
UN Sustainable Development Goals 7: Affordable and Clean Energy

9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
UN Sustainable Development Goals 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure