Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Palm Island (Bwgcolman) lies north of Townsville, off the east coast of Northern Queensland. The mostly First Nations community experiences chronic social and economic disadvantage, the ongoing impact of historical factors and events, discrimination and lack of support in the justice system and lack of access to (or ineffective) diversionary programs.

The Palm Island Police Citizens Youth Club (PCYC) was established in 2004, and works closely with the Indigenous Programs Development Unit, government agencies, community organisations and members to provide a range of programs that respond to issues faced by the community. The PCYC is well placed to partner with sporting and other local organisations to provide access to sporting and recreational opportunity for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they are one of the only positive and neutral organisations where people can safely engage in positive and healthy ways.

Following extensive interactions and consultations within the community, PCYC Palm Island, in partnership with Indigenous Basketball Australia (IBA), delivered a 3×3 Street Hustle basketball tournament within the Palm Island community. The aim was to support physical and mental health, encourage community connection, achievement, pride and wellbeing in one of the most vulnerable communities of Australia. The tournament provided a platform for people of all ages, particularly young people, to participate in an organised and nationally endorsed tournament. It also contributed towards closing the gap for people on the remote Palm Island. Participants received online player profiles and rankings, providing them with the foundation to move on to additional tournaments.

In addition, PCYC Palm Island partnered with IBA to deliver school-based basketball development clinics with the two schools on Palm Island. This allowed young people to experience invaluable mentoring interactions with Joel Khalu (Basketball Queensland, IBA, and NBL Mackay Meteors coach) and Australian Olympian Annie Le Fleur (FIBA, WNBL, WNBA, Australian Women’s Team and Olympian). In total 441 students (231 girls, 210 boys) participated in the three coaching clinics, and 96 children and 48 adults competed in the Community 3×3 Basketball Street Hustle competition.

Despite experiencing a series of delays due to COVID and staffing issues, Phil Schulz, CEO of PCYC Palm Island, said that the program provided a foundation from which young people can build as they move on to greater challenges in sport and in life. It also provided community members with much needed social connection opportunities and the ability to participate in an activity that supports physical as well as mental wellbeing. This was all made possible thanks to a $10,000 Small & Vital grant from FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities program, funded by the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

“It was fantastic to get such quality mentors to deliver our program, and the kids were extremely engaged and excited to be involved to learn new skills. The competitions held were excellent in bringing the community together.

“Having such terrific mentors as Joel Khalu and Annie Le Fleur delivering this program with an extraordinary high level of passion and enthusiasm [was amazing]. They took the time to make sure all the kids got involved to realise levels of potential they possessed. Feedback from both schools was excellent with both requesting this become a yearly interaction.

”Importantly, the program also enhanced Palm Island PCYC’s relationships within the community and its ability to provide support and programming for young people, improve community partnerships and enhance the capacity of young people to participate in and lead future programs.

Take a look at the kids in action and listen to how the Basketball Queensland Indigenous Pathways Program (BQIPP) is making a positive impact on the local community!