Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Delivering On Our Promise: Arafura Games Returns in 2019

The Territory Labor Government’s election promise to bring back the Arafura Games – after they were dumped by the chaotic former CLP Government – has become a reality with the announcement the event will return in April and May 2019.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the next Games would run from April 27 – May 4, 2019 and Government will invest $4 million in their return.

Mr Gunner also confirmed which sports would be played at the Games, which will be held every two years, following six months of consultation with stakeholders.

“Territorians love the Arafura Games and were angry they were scrapped - we have listened I am proud to announce the dates for the 2019 event in Darwin,” he said.

“The CLP’s four years in office were marked by infighting and chaos which included destroying institutions like the Arafura Games in 2012. We are restoring trust in Government by bringing back the Games, just like we promised we would.

“Territorians loved the multi-sport event, which attracted around 1600 athletes and more than 1000 volunteers last time it was held. It is extremely important to local businesses and provides an important economic boost. 

“In keeping with this, the Chamber of Commerce will run a major regional conference in Darwin during the Games. This is about connecting the business community with our close Asian neighbours to leverage business, tourism and cultural opportunities and we are funding the Chamber $100,000 to do this.” 

The Minister for Primary Industry and Resources Ken Vowles will take on the Arafura Games as part of his portfolio responsibilities and Member for Sanderson Kate Worden will remain as Assistant Minister for the Arafura Games. 

“Giving the Games their own Minister to report to shows how significant this event is to the Territory – particularly in terms of the economic and social benefits - and works in well with Ken’s portfolio. Kate has done a sensational job and will remain in her role to support Ken and ensure we deliver on our promise and host a great Games,” Mr Gunner said. 

Mr Vowles said the first Arafura Games in eight years would help build new business and investment networks in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The NT is the gateway to Asia, and for tourists and businesses it’s vital to grow relationships with this region – the Arafura Games is perfect to do this,” he said. 

“The Games have always fostered goodwill between sporting neighbours with the sharing of sporting and cultural knowledge within the Asia-Pacific region.  

“I will continue to incorporate promoting and championing the Arafura Games into my visits to Asia as part of my Primary Industry and Resources portfolio, and I will make sure all Ministerial travel to Asia is coordinated to include promotion of the Games.”

Ms Worden said the Arafura Games Steering Committee had undertaken comprehensive consultation which had helped inform the format of the new Games.

“Feedback from Territorians has helped inform the scope of the new Arafura Games which will be held over eight days and run every two years,” Ms Worden said.

“We have listened to the community to understand their values, issues and vision, and this has helped guide the format of the new and improved Arafura Games.”

The sports to be included in the 2019 Arafura Games are below (there will also be demonstration sports of Sepak Takraw and dragon boating):

Athletics / Tennis / Muay Thai / Sailing / Volleyball / Weightlifting / Basketball / Hockey / Netball / Table tennis / Boxing / Soccer / Badminton / Swimming / Archery

Media Contact: Cameron Angus 0404 021 192