A brain changer in remote northern Australia

  • Timmy Duggan with Hoops 4 Health participants
  • Timmy Duggan with Hoops 4 Health young participants

Timmy Duggan with Hoops 4 Health participants

Hoops 4 Health has been operating for 21 years in northern Australia. A First Nations-led business that blends the life experiences of its mentors with leading-edge trauma-informed neuroscience, the Hoops 4 Health entity has conjured up a massive 10,000 touchpoints of participation since 2010.

More than basketball, the organisation uses concepts of First Nations leadership and experiences combined with Dr Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model.

Addressing and using a trauma and culturally informed approach in our engagement with young people is significant to us making an impact. The ability to reflect and regulate to make decisions and using stress to build resilience are key components of our session delivery. It just so happens we also use a basketball to interact and give some life lessons. – Timmy Duggan OAM, Founder of Hoops 4 Health

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Hoops 4 Health is based on Larrakia Country in the Northern Territory and has travelled a whopping number of kilometres in just the past 12 months. The accompanying graphic indicates the places where the program has been conducted. These far-reaching places have now had access to some of the best coaching and mentoring from a First Nations perspective. The Hoops 4 Health program is delivered weekly in the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, a number of rehabilitation facilities and also in the adult prisons in Alice Springs and Darwin.

It is well known that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people are over-represented in the youth justice system in Australia. Studies have also shown that rates of adverse childhood experiences, exposure to abuse, neglect or household dysfunction are particularly high in this population, as are trauma symptoms, substance use, and internalising and externalising behaviours. With this in mind, research has shown that developmentally focused and trauma-informed approaches may offer the greatest promise in assisting young people and keeping the community safe from crime.

Creative and accessible solutions, such as trauma-informed sport, offer a lot of untapped potential for healing and crime prevention. In fact, sport in particular is uniquely suited to be part of the solution because of the way that it inherently combines physical activity, relationships, structure and competence building.

To ensure sustainability of the program, Hoops 4 Health Champions are identified in communities and can become accredited Hoops 4 Health Coaches, so the life-changing message of hope is continued. This is even more important when you are part of the most vulnerable and remote populations in the world.

Watch highlights of 20 years of Hoops 4 Health

National Rural Health Alliance's podcast with Timmy Duggan

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