Surfing NSW has created a new role to help build Indigenous engagement in the sport across the state.
Mel Leaudais has been named the Indigenous Engagement Coordinator at Surfing NSW, with one of her first tasks to help attract funding for new Indigenous talent.
Leaudais formed a relationship with the sport’s governing body in NSW by helping to run early intervention surf camps out of La Perouse and Maroubra in Sydney.
“Every Thursday we take 12 kids down to the beach to go surfing and we do an annual Aboriginal cultural surf camp,” Leaudais said.
Surfing NSW and Leaudais have set clear goals for the next year, starting by opening up volunteer and some intern opportunities for young Indigenous people.
“We will be working with organisations across the Indigenous community to try to identify the right people for those opportunities,” Leaudais said.
The new role is just one day a week so Leaudais is also tasked with helping to attract funding to make her role full-time.
“The dream is to increase our relationship within the Aboriginal communities throughout New South Wales, and also in our own backyard in Sydney,” she said.
Leaudais alluded to possible Indigenous surfing competitions hitting the calendar in years to come, to complement the existing Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles at Bells Beach.
“I grew up in La Perouse, I had a pretty rough upbringing, lived in housing, my parents divorced, I had my issues as a young person and my outlet was the beach. Because it was free,” Leaudais said.
“I can relate to a lot of the kids in our community because I’ve been there myself.
“If it wasn’t for surfing, I don’t know where I’d be now.”
By Keiran Deck