Surfing WA is pleased to announce the launch of a brand-new surf and cultural program specifically designed and delivered by Indigenous people for Indigenous people.
The Wadandi Surf Academy aims to bring South-West Indigenous students together to promote the healthy lifestyle and enjoyment of surfing among our first nations people.
Following the vision of Wadandi elders, the late George Webb and Vilma Webb, who strongly believed that Aboriginal communities gained strength through the sharing of culture between themselves and the wider non-Indigenous community, the Wadandi Surf Academy aims to create and develop a pathway program for Indigenous surfers in Western Australia by connecting them with the ocean and their culture.
This all-inclusive program will introduce young Aboriginal's to the benefits of surfing and at the same time reconnecting them with their culture.
Starting with learn to surf lessons and a cultural induction program, led by local custodian Iszaac Webb, the Wadandi Surf Academy's long term goals to create a sustainable Aboriginal Surfing Academy which hold regular events, delivers dedicated surf coaching programs for Aboriginal people and train Aboriginal judges and officials.
The ultimate goal of the Wadandi Surf Academy is to see West Australian's once again competing in the National Indigenous Titles to be held at Bells Beach, Victoria, in May 2020.
Over time, it's hoped that the Wadandi Surf Academy will evolve into a strong and significant vehicle for social participation as well as increasing opportunities for Indigenous West Australian's in the surfing industry.
"Launching the program today with 19 Indigenous kids from the South-West region has been a real success," Mr Webb said.
"Integrating surfing and culture together has been the key and has provided this mob with a much broader and beneficial experience.
"Putting these kids back on their country and providing them meaningful connection through surfing has been amazing."
Margaret River's Josh Palmateer is managing the surfing component of the program and as a former professional on the World Tour from 1988 - 1994 and achieving a career high ranking of 45 in the world.
Palmateer hopes to pass some of his surfing knowledge and experience onto this new generation coming through the ranks.
"This program is brilliant and something WA has needed for a long time," said Palmateer.
"To see every single participant, get in, give it a crack and succeed is what it's all about, I'm stoked."
Surfing Western Australia has a long and rich history in providing opportunity for Aboriginal surfers and the Wadandi Surf Academy is a positive step in the right direction for this tradition to continue.
Surfing WA chief executive officer Mark Lane said this was a truly organic program that was all about giving back to the next generation of Indigenous surfers.
"WA had so many quality Indigenous surfers in the late 90's, Kenny Dann, Kyle Manchester, Mark Shaw and Sam Sadlier are just a couple that spring to mind," he said.
"We're keen to pilot the program in the South-West with the potential to expand it throughout WA."
Students from Busselton Senior High School and Margaret River Senior High have been invited to take part in the Wadandi Surf Academy with an overwhelming response to the opening day of the program.
Busselton Senior High School teacher Simon Cockburn said it had been a great day out and although some of their kids may have been out of their comfort zone, they've all had a great day out.
"Zac Webb's knowledge of the area and it's cultural importance is second to none and I know our kids were all ears when he was talking," he said.
"We can't wait to continue to the program now and into the future."
The Wadandi people have a very strong connection to family, sand and the sea.
The spiritual bond they have with the land and everything on it is one that is symbiotic.
The Wadandi's knowledge and understanding of their country reflect the deep spiritual and physical connection to country and to places of significance.
The Wadandi Surf Academy is proudly supported by Surfing WA, The Department of Local Government, Sport & Cultural Industries, the Undalup Association, Southern Ports & Josh Palmateer's Surf Academy.