AFL and UWS team up to connect western Sydney communities through health, education and sport

Date: 02/09/2009

The AFL's campaign to deliver a new AFL team for Greater Western Sydney in 2012 - Team GWS - has received a major boost with the University of Western Sydney and the AFL forging a partnership to develop community participation and educational opportunities across the Greater Western Sydney region.

UWS and the AFL have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which is being launched today, Wednesday 2 September, at the UWS Parramatta campus at 6.30pm.

The agreement paves the way for the University and the AFL to work together across a wide range of areas including:

* Further strengthening relationships with schools in Greater Western Sydney
* Leadership and scholarship opportunities
* Indigenous outreach and mentoring programs
* Educational pathways for AFL players
* Multicultural programs
* Sport science and biomedical education and research
* Nutrition, physical education and healthy living programs

The University of Western Sydney is one of the largest universities in Australia, with over 35,000 students. It spans six campuses across Greater Western Sydney - Hawkesbury, Penrith, Parramatta, Bankstown, Campbelltown and Blacktown/Nirimba.

Dale Holmes, General Manger of AFL (NSW/ACT) says this partnership is an important step forward for the AFL.

"The AFL has a history of aligning itself with the education system, which is evident through our growing school ambassador program," he says.

"The University has an impressive network across Greater Western Sydney and we recognise the important position they hold in the community.

"We have enormous respect for UWS and the expansive body of work they do both within the university and out in the community.

"Team GWS is committed to developing community initiatives in Greater Western Sydney, focusing on health, harmony, education and employment. It is through key partnerships with community leaders such as UWS that we will be able to deliver on these initiatives.

"We welcome the 35,000 students and 120,000 UWS alumni to join us in building the first AFL team for GWS."

UWS Vice-Chancellor, Professor Janice Reid, says the University is looking forward to working with the AFL to harness the youthful energy and enterprising spirit within Greater Western Sydney.

"The AFL's plan to establish its new team in Western Sydney in 2012 is an exciting prospect for the people of the region.

"There are many opportunities for the University and the AFL to work together, particularly in strengthening relationships with schools in the GWS region, providing educational pathways, scholarships and research opportunities, and through our sports science and health programs," says Professor Reid.

"For 20 years, UWS has been opening up higher education opportunities for the people of Greater Western Sydney, growing to become one of Australia's most innovative universities.

"The University shares many of the characteristics of the Greater Western Sydney Region - enterprising, forward looking and committed to access and equity in education.

"Community engagement and participation - particularly amongst our schools and local Indigenous communities - is core to everything that we do.

"UWS looks forward to a strong and successful partnership with the AFL here in Greater Western Sydney."

In addition to the Memorandum of Understanding, UWS is joining forces with the AFL as part of its Team GWS community advisory board. Ms Janice Thomas, Director of Development at the University, is a member of the group which is working to build strong support for the team amongst the many different communities within Greater Western Sydney.

As part of the AFL and UWS launch there will be speeches by Dale Holmes, General Manager AFL (NSW/ACT), and Professor Janice Reid, UWS Vice-Chancellor.

The guest speaker will be Professor Greg de Moore, consultant psychiatrist at Westmead Hospital and author of the biography of the man often credited as one of the founding fathers of Australian football in 1858, 'Tom Wills - His Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall'.

WHAT: Launch of the AFL and University of Western Sydney partnership
WHERE: Female Orphan School (Building EZ) UWS Parramatta campus
WHEN: Wednesday 2 September 2009
TIME: 6pm for 6.30pm start


Media contacts:

Jess Ries, AFL (NSW/ACT)
Mobile 0414 401 842

Amanda Whibley, University of Western Sydney
Mobile 0418 438 399

Background information

The 11 members of the Team GWS community advisory board include:

Jim Marsden, Senior Partner of Marsden's Law Group a major legal form in south-western Sydney

John Webster, General Manager of the Cumberland Newspaper Group and former Director of Melbourne Storm

Janice Thomas, Director of Development, University of Western Sydney

Ross Howarth, General Manager Seven Affiliates Sales and former member of the AFL (NSW/ACT) Commission

Christine Cawsey, Principal Rooty Hill High School and Deputy President, NSW High School Principals' Council

Gabrielle Trainor, Partner John Connolly and Partners and a former member of the AFL (NSW/ACT) Commission

David Smith, Director DNA Media and Marketing

Gus Seeback, Program Manager, One/Sport Network Ten and President of the East Coast Eagles (formerly Baulkham Hills) AFL Club

Greg de Moore, Practicing Psychiatrist at Westmead and Blacktown Hospitals, historian and author of the biography of Tom Wills, one of the founding fathers of AFL football

Nareen Young, Chief Executive Officer of the Diversity Council of Australia

Lila Mularczyk, Principal of Merrylands High School and Deputy President of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council



Media Services Manager

Amanda Whibley
02 9678 7084, 0418 438 399