Surfest Indigenous Classic makes waves for Aboriginal competitors and businesses

Tara Moriarty

Minister for Agriculture

Minister for Regional NSW

Minister for Western NSW


Yasmin Catley

Minister for Police and Counter-terrorism

Minister for the Hunter


David Harris

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Treaty, Minister for Gaming and Racing, Minister for Veterans

Minister for Medical Research, Minister for the Central Coast


Surfest Indigenous Classic makes waves for Aboriginal competitors and businesses


Surfers from across Australia will be making waves in Newcastle this weekend for the Surfest Indigenous Classic, sponsored by the NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program.

The two-day event is set to take place at Merewether Beach on March 9 and March 10 and will showcase the talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surfing sensations via Open Mens, Open Womens, Pro Junior Mens, Pro Junior Womens and Open Masters’ divisions.

Between heats, surfers and spectators can stroll over to a temporary Aboriginal business hub on the corner of John Parade and Watkins Street and enjoy all ages activities all weekend, including arts, crafts and textiles stalls which share the rich history and culture of the local Awabakal and Worimi peoples.

Aboriginal competitors and fans will also have the opportunity to drop3 into the hub’s Aboriginal services pop-ups to meet and yarn with prospective employers and training providers who will offer an exciting range of employment and upskilling pathways.

As part of the $84,077 sponsorship, Surfest will also provide additional support to regional Aboriginal communities by setting Aboriginal business and procurement targets with competitor trophies sourced from Aboriginal businesses, and vendors encouraged to meet Aboriginal employment targets to boost job opportunities for local people.

The Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program, is the lead regional-focused program to support outcomes under the NSW Closing the Gap Priority Reform 5, which seeks to strengthen culture and identity and empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within NSW to access pathways through education, training, employment and business support to reach their aspirations.

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Minister for Regional NSW, Tara Moriarty said:

“As the largest surfing festival in the southern hemisphere and broadcast internationally, Surfest is a fantastic opportunity for our Aboriginal surfers and businesses to boost their profile and showcase their unique talent on the world stage,” Ms Moriarty said.

“Thanks to $84,077 from the NSW Government, exciting things are not just happening in the water but also at nearby Jefferson Park, which will give visitors a taster of the rich and diverse cultures the local Awabakal and Worimi peoples have to offer.”

Minister for the Hunter, Yasmin Catley said:

“Surfing is part of our story in the Hunter and Surfest is a huge reason why. This is the beach, at Merewether, that Mark Richards made famous with his four world titles. To celebrate First Nations surfers like this is a fantastic part of Surfest.

“The Indigenous Classic has come a long way in 26 years. It started as The Kooris V The Cops and today it’s among the premier Indigenous sports competitions in Australia.

“I’m proud to be part of a NSW Government that supports and funds the Indigenous Classic. It’s a great event for First Nations athletes and a showcase for Indigenous culture in the gorgeous setting of Merewether beach.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris said:

“The Department of Regional NSW has worked closely with Surfest organisers to connect them with Aboriginal businesses and mob to create new employment and training pathways in a culturally appropriate way, while championing the importance of regional social, cultural, and economic causes,” Mr Harris said.

“Initiatives within the NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program are planned through community consultation and collaboration and I am proud that it helps to strengthen Aboriginal communities and Close the Gap by creating additional opportunities for Aboriginal people.”

12-time surf champion at the Indigenous Classic, Mr Russ Molony said:

“It’s so important to involve the wider community when spreading awareness about Aboriginal culture and knowledge,” Mr Molony said.

“My advice to fellow Aboriginal surfers is to give Surfest a go, have fun, connect with your mobs and enjoy our connection to the ocean.”

“The Indigenous comps are always a good reminder to gather, connect, share stories, surf, listen and inspire each other and I encourage everyone to get involved.”