IOC: Sydney 2000 Olympic Champion Cathy Freeman has been awarded the IOC Women and Sport Award for the Oceania region, for her works through her Foundation.
The prestigious award honours those individuals that work to develop, encourage and strengthen the participation of women and girls in sport at all levels.
As one of Australia’s most admired Olympic champions and the only Aboriginal individual gold medallist, Freeman is a role model for girls and women throughout the country and the world.
Since the end of her sports career, she has concentrated her time on making a difference to young Australians through the Cathy Freeman Foundation (CFF) and lending her support to other community and charitable activities.
CFF currently works with 1600 Indigenous children and their families by partnering with four remote communities - Palm Island, Wurrumiyanga on Bathurst Island, Woorabinda in central Queensland and Galiwin’ku in Arnhem Land.
The Foundation delivers five programs that cover the complete journey of a child’s education and help broaden horizons by focussing on improving school attendance, behaviour and literacy.
The IOC will also provide a donation to the CFF to help further facilitate the amazing works that are helping change lives in Indigenous communities.
Freeman was unable to attend the ceremony in Lausanne on November 10 because of her ongoing works with the Foundation.
Freeman was one of five continental winners honoured at the event alongside Mervat Hassan (Africa), Sara Rosario (Americas), Sheikha Hayat Bint Abdulaziz Al-Khalifa (Asia), and Stavroula Kozompoli (Europe).
Accompanying the continental winners, the IOC also recognises a World Winner with the New Zealand Olympic Committee (NZOC) making history by becoming the first National Olympic Committee (NOC) to be honoured with the award.
The NZOC took home the accolade for its long-standing efforts promoting women in sport that have resulted in strong female representation on its Board, within its senior management and on its Olympic teams.
The NZOC has long been at the forefront of championing change to ensure that women have a prominent role in sport, on and off the field of play.
Particular attention has been paid to increasing the number of women representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games and in decision-making and leadership positions, not only within the NOC, but also in other sports organisations in the country.
The Australian Olympic Committee has also been making big grounds in gender equality in recent years. Fiona de Jong is now the CEO, Kitty Chiller the 2016 Team Chef de Mission, Helen Brownlee is the AOC Vice-President and six of the thirteen members of the Executive are women. The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Team had one more female than male competitor.