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Reconciliation Week kicks off with 2019 IMP squad announcement


Group of Indigenous adults in black track suits stand on steps under cover in front of a building. In front of them is an elderly man in grey suit and a woman in black dress and light jacket.
2019 IMP squad and the Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne Cosgrove
23 May 2019

Media Release: Indigenous Marathon Foundation

Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) will kick off Reconciliation Week with the announcement of their 2019 Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) squad.

12 young Indigenous men and women from all around the country have arrived in Canberra to begin their training under de Castella and IMP head coach Adrian Dodson-Shaw, preparing to run the New York City Marathon on 3 November 2019.

From as far-reaching as the Iwaputaka Community in the Northern Territory to the Pilbara region of Western Australia, from Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Toowoomba, the Northern Rivers region of NSW, Alice Springs and Canberra, these 12 individuals are united by their determination to bring about change in their communities.

Dodson-Shaw says the selection process was the toughest yet – with nearly 200 applicants; the largest number so far to respond to the national call-out.

“The large number of applicants just goes to show that Indigenous Australians are seeing the impact the project is having, and want to participate,” Dodson-Shaw says. “It’s a life-changing experience; not just for the 12 selected but the further reaching impacts the project can have on their families and home communities.”

The squad was invited to Government House this morning by the Governor General, a steadfast supporter of the project and Patron-in-Chief of the foundation, for the official announcement.

The 2019 squad are:



Jordan Armstrong – Iwaputaka Community, NT/Alice Springs, NT

Taneshia Atkinson – Kingscliff, NSW/Brisbane, QLD

Tyrone Bean – Sunshine Coast, QLD/Melbourne, VIC

Kate Axten – Alice Springs, NT

Shane Cook – Adelaide, SA

Emily Broderick – Perth, WA

Travis Naden – Canberra, ACT

Sianna Catullo – Melbourne, VIC

Neil Sabatino – Melbourne, VIC

Narrinda Dempsey – Toowoomba, QLD

Keifer Yu – Broome, WA

Jordyn Merritt – Wickham, WA


De Castella said he was thrilled to welcome the squad to the project, and their first camp in Canberra, as they follow in the footsteps of the 86 IMP graduates before them.

The foundation’s IMP footprint now spans across 55 communities around Australia. Graduates use the knowledge and skills gained through IMP to further their careers, help their families and improve their communities. Many graduates start up local community running groups as part of Deadly Running Australia or pursue personal or professional goals with the help of the FrontRunners grant program – both programs which sit under de Castella’s foundation. 

“It’s always exciting to meet a new squad and to listen to what they’d like to achieve once they graduate,” de Castella says. “The finish line in New York City is just the start for our graduates. It’s what they do when they come home after IMP that really matters.”

The squad will spend the next six months undertaking rigorous training and education alongside de Castella and Dodson-Shaw. In addition to their physical training, the squad will also undertake a Certificate IV in Sport and Recreation, first aid and CPR certification, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health first aid certification, and Level 1 Recreational Run Leader accreditation.

Find out more

For more information, see Indigenous Marathon Project.

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