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We can use AFL to boost school attendance and improve mental health in Indigenous communities

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Indigenous boys living in remote Australian communities have a 20% lower truancy rate if they play AFL. This is one of the findings from our latest study exploring the benefits of Indigenous people’s participation in Australian rules football (AFL).

Our report, After the Siren: The community benefits of Indigenous participation in Australia Rules Football found Indigenous children who participate in AFL have better physical and mental health than those who don’t. Children who played football were 6% less likely to be assessed as having learning difficulties due to health issues.

Infographic: Are we making progress on Indigenous education?

Conducted by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, the report also showed that 56% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children who participated in football were assessed as being in excellent health compared to 48% of those who had not participated in any organised sport.

There are both physical and mental health benefits for adults and children who participate in sports. But participation in organised sport is generally higher for people from more advantaged backgrounds, such as those owning a home, people who live in higher socioeconomic neighbourhoods, those who have a car, are better educated, and not in financial stress.

Interestingly though, this........

© The Conversation