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Deadly Runners set to participate in empowerment program during six-day Uluru camp



Twelve First Nations women, along with participants from Canberra, Brisbane, and the coastal regions of New South Wales, have been extended an invitation to convene with the women from the Mutitjulu community in central Australia. This gathering, set against the backdrop of the Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara Country, spans six days and brings together women ranging in age from 20 to 60 who are affiliated with the Deadly Runners initiative. Engaging in a diverse array of cultural activities, these women will also receive training and certification in mental health, first aid, and running techniques.


The Deadly Runners program, an exclusively Indigenous-owned and community-centred running endeavour, is experiencing a remarkable surge in participation and backing from various First Nations communities. Since its inception in 2014, the program has grown its presence, now operating in several locations including Byron Bay, Batemans Bay, Narooma, Queanbeyan, and Canberra.


This transformative initiative prides itself on inclusivity, attracting a wide range of participants spanning from as young as four years old to as experienced as 68. The driving force behind this movement is Georgia Weir, a former Canberra-Queanbeyan local who now resides in Narooma. A seasoned marathon runner with an impressive record, Weir's own journey through challenges has become a living testament to the empowering and healing aspects of running.


Reflecting on her personal experiences, Weir shared her exhilaration of participating in marathons like the New York City Marathon, emphasizing the unique opportunity it offers to intimately explore a city's landscape on foot. Her own struggles with anxiety, depression, and addiction led her to running as a last resort, and the profound positive impact it had on her life compelled her to extend this opportunity to others.


The program's success and resonance within Indigenous communities have fostered meaningful partnerships with Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) and the Tali Katu Program, Karunpa Kunpu. These alliances have given rise to the launch of the Deadly Runners: Connect, Culture, Community Program (DRCCC) at Uluru. This initiative seeks to nurture exceptional Indigenous women who have emerged as leaders in their respective communities by immersing them in culture and equipping them with accredited training in Mental Health First Aid and fitness.


Weir's visionary approach involves cultivating leaders within each cohort, allowing those eager to upskill the chance to gain running qualifications. As she witnessed the role of running in fostering emotional well-being and providing a platform for addressing personal trauma, the concept of Mental Health First Aid became an integral component of the program. Weir's own experiences with anxiety and depression solidified the importance of this aspect, emphasizing the significance of equipping community leaders with comprehensive tools.


In Weir's eyes, the mental fortitude demanded by long-distance running transcends into other facets of life. It instils qualities such as focus, determination, commitment, and the ability to navigate discomfort – attributes that resonate deeply within the Deadly Runners program. Her excitement for the upcoming DRCCC program and the transformative impact it promises is palpable, as it aims to facilitate personal growth, qualification attainment, job prospects, and trauma education.


As the Deadly Runners initiative continues to evolve, Weir acknowledges the pivotal role played by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA) in propelling its progress. The "life changing" IBA Accelerator Program, which Weir completed in 2019, armed her with essential knowledge that expedited the program's growth. Grateful for the unwavering support and guidance offered by IBA, Weir acknowledges the instrumental role they've played in shaping the program's trajectory.


In recounting the profound impact of the Deadly Runners program on participants, Weir's humility shines through. The joy of witnessing women breaks barriers and achieve milestones, such as running nonstop for the first 20 minutes, fuels her dedication. As the program continues to transform lives and promote healing through running, Weir's unwavering commitment stands as a testament to the program's enduring impact and potential for future growth.


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