SYDNEY (AP) — The Australian Olympic Committee amended its constitution at its annual general meeting on Saturday to ensure there’s a permanent Indigenous representation on the AOC Athletes’ Commission.

The AGM passed an amendment that will require at least one Aboriginal and one Torres Strait Island representative on the Commission.

These members may be elected by athletes competing at a Summer or Winter Games — or directly appointed by the AOC Executive following advice from the AOC Indigenous Advisory Committee (IAC), if no Indigenous athletes were elected.

AOC President John Coates says the AOC’s commitment to reconciliation has gained significant momentum since the Constitution was amended in 2015 to recognize the heritage, culture and history of Australia’s first peoples and to give practical support to Indigenous reconciliation through sport.

“That was an important first step back then, and this is another today. I congratulate the Athletes’ Commission and its Chair Steve Hooker for this initiative," Coates said. “They have worked hand in hand with our Indigenous Advisory Committee led by Patrick Johnson to ensure we continue to make real progress."

Former sprinter Johnson says the cooperation between the IAC and the AOC Athletes’ Commission has had a positive impact on both groups.

“As an Olympian, a proud Kaanju man and chair of the IAC, I am a great believer in timing," Johnson said. “My thanks to Athletes’ Commission Chair Steve Hooker for his drive to achieve this recognition. The time was right for this constitutional change to create mutual understanding and respect through a journey of walking together."


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