‘Changing the Score’

An Australia-Brazil Sport for Reconciliation Journey October 2013

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riodOn Wednesday 9th October a group of 18 participants depart Melbourne for Rio de Janeiro to embark on the third in a series of ‘Deepend Journeys’. This ‘reconciliation journey’ is a merging of the Deepend journey concept with work taking place at RMIT and Global Reconciliation. The project includes a research agenda and is a collaborative endeavour between Bluestone Edge, RMIT University, Global Reconciliation, Richmond Football Club and IBISS.

IBISS is a well-established organisation that has been working in favela communities of Rio de Janeiro since 1989. Today, IBISS works in dozens of favela communities around the city. It employs more than 300 people, over 80 per cent of whom grew up and still live in the favelas in which the organisation works. IBISS’ core goal is to help address socio-economic inequality and violence and to support and empower disadvantaged groups to advocate for their human rights. Its work focuses on communities that are socially excluded and facing social and health crises. It also works with specific target groups including people who are homeless, catadores (those who survive by collecting and reselling recyclable waste) and child soldiers – young people who are recruited to work in the drug trade. One of the tools IBISS uses in its child soldier program is sport – in particular soccer games are used as a vehicle for health promotion, reconciliation and social inclusion work.

This project, ‘Changing the Score’, draws upon previous work and existing networks and resources in Australia and Brazil to facilitate reconciliation practice and share knowledge on social inclusion in both countries using the medium of sport. RMIT University is also undertaking an action-research project as part of this journey.

Through a series of engagements between the Australians and the Brazilians in the favelas, on the soccer pitches and on the make-shift AFL ovals, we hope to share creative and open dialogues about culture, resilience, leadership, strong communities and social inclusion.

Sport has a special place in the national cultures of both Australia and Brazil. In both countries it is understood as one important aspect of social identity and can be a learning ground for the development of values such as teamwork, fair play, harmony, sacrifice, courage and integrity. Sporting success can also provide an expression for national pride on the world stage and a source of support for social connectedness and solidarity within communities. Importantly, this project is about recognising the human spirit that is common among people regardless of their circumstances.

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We believe that this very different ‘end of season footy trip’ can provide inspiration for participants in the group and those people who care to watch, many of whom wear the mantle of ‘role model’ to continue work on reconciliation, sport, and wellness with our own indigenous and non-indigenous communities in Australia upon return.

Participants in this project include 9 AFL players from Richmond Tigers (Alex Rance, Dan Jackson, David Astbury, Dylan Grimes, Jake King, Matt Dea, Reece Conca, Shane Edwards and Steve Morris), 2 young indigenous men from the Laguntas pathways program with Melbourne’s Korin Gamadji Institute, Darren Allen and Derek Hayes, Tigers’ management personnel in Wayne Campbell and Belinda Duarte, project leader and researcher Dr Elizabeth Kath, research assistant Bree Alexander, intrepid cameraman and ‘Deepend Journey’ veteran Lincoln Cleak, and me, Pippa Grange, project leader.

The project is supported by Richmond Football Club, Karoon Gas, Rio Tinto, Drapac Group, Costa Foundation, RMIT University and Bluestone Edge.

We are grateful to be working with such wonderful partners and sponsors, and we are looking forward to ‘telling the story’ of the project through our video diaries each day for the duration of the project at www.bluestoneedge.com.


The Video Diaries from Rio are now online! Take a moment to view some great footage of the journey Rio – Video Diaries

Watch the ‘United we Stand’ documentary from our first Deepend Journey to Sri Lanka with Adam Goodes, Brett Kirk, Brad Sewell and friends…

Changing the Score. An Australia-Brazil sport for reconciliation exchange. Report from RMIT Globalism Research Centre.

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