Tomago Aluminium has teamed up with Hunter Primary Care and local businesses, including Port Stephens Council, to support the Indigenous men’s basketball team, Karuah Kinnections. 

The team is made up of young men aged 16 to 25-year-olds, who either live at Karuah Mission or have grown up in the area. Players on the Karuah Kinnections team have struggled with unemployment and isolation is a huge problem. Mental health issues have also been reported as a harsh reality for young people in the area.

The team was formed soon after volunteers responded to a desperate plea for help from Michelle Perry, a Mission elder, deeply concerned about the self-harm and attempted suicide rates among the community’s younger members.

The young men at the Karuah mission are part of a vulnerable community with a shared love of basketball. With no equipment, uniforms or anywhere to train, Michelle Perry contacted Hunter Primary Care and Kate Burns at Tomago Aluminium asking for assistance. Tomago was happy to get behind such an important initiative supplying 18 pairs of new Adidas basketball shoes. Hunter Primary Care brought their shirts and Port Stephens Council are refurbishing their basketball court to train on.

Former National Basketball League star Butch Hays from Snap Programs also got behind the team and volunteered to be their coach.

Since the team formed, Karuah Mission has not reported a single suicide attempt and the general mental health of the young players has improved.

The team completed their first competitive season in 2020, finishing third of the seven teams in the league.

On Tuesday, Katie Burns (Communications Advisor) and Simon Mitchell (Manager, People, Safety & Environment) attended a special launch event for the team and sponsors. Federal MP Kate Washington and Port Stephen Mayor, Ryan Palmer, also attended.

During the event, the team expressed their gratitude for the local support and were presented with their new shoes and uniforms.

The great thing, Michelle said, is that everyone wants to play. The team sports initiative has been incredibly empowering for everyone involved, Michelle noticing that, after a few weeks of training and playing, confidence levels were at an all-time high and mental health issues had tapered-off.

We look forward to watching how the Karuah Kinnection team go this season!

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