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Grassroots healthy living and school attendance program granted $10 million injection for state-wide rollout

Jarred Cross -

An Aboriginal Medical Service-created program targeting healthy living and youth education has received a multi-million dollar boost just three years into its delivery.

NSW Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Ben Franklin announced the $10.9 million dollar funding for the Healthy Deadly Kids program at the state's Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council training institute in Sydney's Little Bay this month.

Founded by the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service in 2019, the program is aimed at teaching primary school kids a holistic view of health and wellbeing.

The service will be rolled out online for access to all local schools, facilitated by the partnerships between Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and the Aboriginal Health and Medical Research Council (AH&MRC).

In addition to encouraging healthy living, the lessons target increasing First Nations school attendance rates across New South Wales.

In September a NSW Auditor General report revealed less than half of Indigenous students were meeting benchmark attendance levels, and the gap between themselves and non-Indigenous peers had swelled in recent years.

AH&MRC chief executive Robert Skeen thanked the NSW government for their ongoing support and credited the Illawarra Aboriginal Medical Service with Healthy Deadly Kids' creation.

"Because of their initiative we now can expand this much needed program across many other areas and schools," Mr Skeen said.

"The program has already had a positive impact, with students who have lived through, and are still living in an intergenerational trauma cycle who have aspirations for their future."

Healthy Deadly Kids will now reach more than 2000 children across 14 priority locations across NSW, including Wellington and Broken Hill in the central and far-west.

"The NSW Government is committed to investing in outcomes, designed and delivered by Aboriginal people for all Aboriginal people and communities to prosper across our State," Mr Franklin said.

"This funding will support an Aboriginal-led initiative aiming to enhance school attendancein Aboriginal communities whilst empowering and educating the younger generation to make positive changes around healthy eating and lifestyle choices.

The Minister for Aboriginal Affairs said the investment "will further shift the dial" on meeting Closing the Gap targets and supporting positive outcomes for Aboriginal people in NSW.

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