Keep the fire burning: physiotherapist's NYC marathon dream

Jye Murray running along a path as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project

Keep the fire burning: physiotherapist's NYC marathon dream

Jye Murray running along a path as part of the Indigenous Marathon Project

The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) proudly supports NAIDOC Week 2024, honouring this year’s theme, “Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud”. The theme is an invitation and reminder for all Australians to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year, we highlight Jyedn 'Jye' Murray, an APA member and Wiradjuri-Ngemba man from Canberra, who embodies the spirit of the NAIDOC Week theme. Jye’s commitment to closing the healthcare gap and participation in the Indigenous Marathon Project (IMP) exemplify the theme's call to be proud of our heritage and to advocate loudly for positive change.  

Founded in 2009 by renowned Australian marathon runner Robert de Castella, the IMP celebrates the culture, strength, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, empowering participants to be inspirational leaders through running.  

Jye's involvement with the program began in 2021 when he met a coach from the project who had ended up on his physiotherapy table, eventually leading him to join the squad.

‘I never really thought running a marathon was something I could do. I have a footy background, where I run a little bit, but nothing like that. After I watched my [now] coach run her marathon that year, it lit a fire in me. The resilience and effort that led to that reward was very emotional to watch,’ Jye said.  

Jye’s selection for the New York City Marathon will be based on his performance at the upcoming Alice Springs’ 30 kilometre ‘night’ run and coupled with a good streak with injuries and a steady gym routine, he hopes he will be able to tick off a bucket list item.

Jye is also passionate about addressing healthcare disparities through cultural awareness and allyship. As a First Nations health advocate he incorporates cultural health determinants into everyday practices, emphasising the importance of traditional foods, bush medicines, and a connection to Country.  

‘It’s not just about going out for a walk to be healthier. Walk on somewhere of ancestral significance. That way you’re getting a connection to Country, to your ancestral ties, and that has a powerful impact,’ Jye said.

Jye covers topics from Reconciliation and the Closing the Gap project to cultural sensitivity and allyship, taking a two-pronged approach through working with community to inspire and teach them to live healthier lives, and working with non-Indigenous healthcare workers to teach them better ways of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

‘I’ve always had this burning desire in me to give back to the community. I want to inspire Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to live healthier lives by showing them how to do it and break down barriers by doing it themselves,’ he said.

‘I’m trying to make people aware that we can offset the things that have put us Mob in a bad position—the social determinants of health—with our cultural domains of health. With that knowledge, people then have more of an idea of why we are where we are and how to map an alternative path to get better results,’ he said.  

He’s also applying that to the other side of the equation by helping to provide non-Indigenous health workers with culturally safe and appropriate practice skills, giving healthcare workers like physiotherapists, frameworks and protocols to help them implement culturally safe practices.

‘We’re healthcare professionals; we need actionable steps. I’ve made a resource based on that, where people can sit there and go okay, these are the areas we need to work on and here are actionable things that I can do to work towards that,’ he said.  

Palawa man and APA National President Scott Willis, emphasises the significance of Jye’s efforts to truly help close the gap.  

‘Jye’s story demonstrates the power of cultural connection and community support in achieving better health outcomes. It’s about keeping the fire burning, being proud of our heritage, and being vocal in our advocacy for improved health equity,’ he said.

As part of NAIDOC Week celebrations, the APA strongly encourages all members and the wider community to engage in local events, learn more about First Nations cultures, and reflect on the ways we can contribute to reconciliation and equity in healthcare. 

Photo credit: Korey Summers Photography


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