Bringing pride in culture to young Indigenous people via basketball.

Grant Type
Community
Focus
Social Cohesion
Date
2023
Partner

Rick Baldwin is a Gunai Kurnai man and founder and CEO of the Koorie Academy, a not-for-profit based in Naarm (Melbourne) that engages and empowers young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders through basketball clinics and cultural activities.

For more than 20 years, he has been an advocate for young Indigenous people. He works to ensure they have opportunities to take part in sport, learn about their cultural heritage and make connections to Country. Through the Koorie Academy they also build knowledge, skills and resources so they can actively engage in education and employment.

Rick’s personal story is one of abuse and intergenerational trauma as a child of members of the Stolen Generation. Once a bright basketball star himself, his sense of cultural connection through sport is central to why he started Koorie Academy.

“As a young man, I experienced disconnection from family and disconnection from culture,” Rick says. “My family has had to live with that, and I’ve lived with and experienced it. I was lucky to have basketball with good mentors and I found opportunity and community in sport.”

Rick’s passionate about helping young Indigenous kids because they face disproportionate challenges. Over 23,000 Australian Indigenous children are in out-of-home care, and Indigenous children aged 10 to 17 are about 24 times more likely to be in detention than other young people. Rick sees basketball as key to connecting them to their culture and community so they can reach their potential.

Along with the basketball comes physical and mental health benefits, connection to community and mentorship.

“In my community, there are a lot of broken families with single mums trying to pay rent and put food on the table, so sports get shelved,” Rick says.

“And the school system isn’t set up to handle kids with trauma, so the kids get labelled. I was one of these kids. That’s why it resonates with me. To help people, open people’s eyes up and teach them culture - it’s something that I’m very passionate about.”

To extend the reach of the Koorie Academy’s work, The Bennelong Foundation funded the production of three videos that tell Rick’s personal story, and the story of the organisation.

“It’s important to capture what Koorie Academy is about. It’s about grassroots. It’s about inclusion. It’s about coming together in a safe space,” Rick says.

Watch Ricky's videos.

Ricky's Story (Trailer)
Rickys Story
Koorie Academy kids

Impactful results

The Benefit

Koorie Academy has enabled Indigenous youth to participate in grassroots, structured sport within their community.

Outcome

Easier for Indigenous youth to be part of a community-level sport that fosters inclusion and connections, both social and cultural.

Outcome

More opportunities for indigenous youth to learn, work and connect with others, and to have a voice.

“The school system isn’t set up to handle kids with trauma. So the kids get labelled. And I was one of these kids. That’s why it resonates with me. To help people, open people’s eyes up and teach them culture - it’s something that I’m very passionate about.”

Ricky Baldwin

CEO, Koorie Academy

Image Gallery

Explore more stories of impact

Read how our partners are creating opportunities for people to shape their own futures.