The Big Issue’s Community Street Soccer Programme will continue to provide positive health outcomes for disadvantaged and marginalised Australians following a $2 million Australian Government funding commitment today.
The Minister for Health Sussan Ley and Independent Senator for Queensland Glenn Lazarus today announced the sport-based programme would continue to provide a range of activities to promote a healthy lifestyle.
Ms Ley said while the programme was focussed on promoting physical activity, it was proving successful in reducing smoking, alcohol and drug use rates in those that were engaged with it.
“This programme is helping to improve health awareness and access to physical activity to assist marginalised and disadvantaged Australians to engage in positive health practices,” Ms Ley said.
“Promoting physical activity is only one aspect of the programme, which helps build participants self-esteem and wellbeing in an inclusive team environment.”
Soccer fanatic, Federal Member for Forde, Bert van Manen MP welcomed the announcement after playing goal keeper at the Harmony Day soccer match between SBS professionals and politicians on the Senate Oval at Parliament House.
“It is a terrific programme and I look forward to catching up with the Big Issue team for a kick around when the Community Street Soccer Program comes to Brisbane,” van Manen said.
Senator Lazarus said he had actively campaigned the Government to ensure the continuation of the programme and its contribution to better health outcomes for Australians.
“I am pleased that my persistent approaches to the Minister for Health have resulted in the allocation of funding to an important and much needed community sporting initiative,” Senator Lazarus said.
“Sport provides all people, including those most in need, with positive community engagement and a supportive social network.
“Participating in street soccer with the Big Issue gives people an opportunity to build confidence through sport to tackle other issues in their lives.
“I am pleased that the Government has listened and funding has been delivered to support this programme and ensure that more members of the community can benefit from sport regardless of circumstance.”
Steven Persson, CEO of The Big Issue thanked the Government for its proactive investment in health through sport.
“The Federal Government has been a long standing partner of our Community Street Soccer Program, a Big Issue initiative that uses the power of sport to change lives,” he said.
“We are thrilled the Government is able to continue their support of homeless and disadvantaged Australians via Australia’s most successful 'sport for change' programme,” Persson said.
Funding has been committed over two years from 2014-15 to 2015-16. The programme currently operates in 18 locations across Australia.
The Community Street Soccer Programme is run by The Big Issue, an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise, which provides ways to assist Australians to participate in society as independently as possible and to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing.
Bert with The Big Issue's Sally Hines and Senator Lazarus after the announcement.