Indigenous AFL greats have joined with the Banksia Hill Detention Centre to help detainees improve their sporting skills and to provide positive role models.
The recently formed Indigenous Players Alliance (IPA), chaired by former Fremantle great Des Headland, has partnered with Binar Sports and the Stephen Michael Foundation to run football and basketball clinics at the facility.
The IPA and its partners set up the eight-week-long program at short notice when visits and other activities were suspended at Banksia Hill because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Former AFL players Roger Hayden and Chance Bateman have also joined the clinics while on hiatus from their respective coaching staff roles at the Fremantle Dockers and West Coast Eagles.
All Banksia Hill detainees have been able to participate in the two-hour clinics, which are being held three days a week at the centre’s gymnasium and sporting oval.
The coaches and participants have been following stringent hygiene practices of handwashing, and balls and equipment are cleaned and disinfected after each session to minimise the risk of infections.
In addition to developing their sporting skills, the male and female detainees are also gaining umpiring and coaching certification from the Stephen Michael Foundation.
So far 24 detainees have earned umpiring and coaching certificates, which can help them find work upon release.
As stated by Corrective Services Minister Francis Logan:
“Sport is, of course, a great way to build teamwork, responsibility and trust, but what is important about this new initiative is the mentoring role it plays as well.
“Having such great indigenous role models, including the staff who run the clinics, makes a big difference to the young people at Banksia Hill.
“It’s also great to see the young people gaining recognised qualifications in coaching and umpiring that may help them find work or a team to join when they are released.
“This new initiative is just one of the many positive changes to Banksia Hill since it has become a stable facility compared to how it was previously managed.
“The centre holds army cadet programs, career expos, youth in emergency services programs, runs its own café with accredited barista courses and much more.
“Congratulations to everyone involved with the IPA and Banksia Hill for another successful program.”
As stated by Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray:
“This is a great result for the Indigenous Players Alliance and Banksia Hill.
“When the IPA was formed, the McGowan Government threw its support behind the group’s philosophy of supporting current and past AFL indigenous players, so it’s fantastic to see it extend its reach to help the detainees at Banksia Hill.
“Sport can play such an important role in a young person’s life with the skills, respect and experience they gain helping in other areas of their life.”
As stated by Indigenous Players Alliance chairman Des Headland:
“To have our program there every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday gives the kids a chance for two hours to come out and clear their minds.
“The growth and participation rate has increased since day one. They’ve been really involved in the program and really respectful of the facilitators.
“A lot of these kids benefit greatly from Aboriginal leaders within their own communities coming in and giving their time.”