A community-minded approach
RMIT researchers worked with the Afri-Aus Care and the Black Rhinos Basketball members to co-design the program. From this co-design process, they will continue work with community to implement and co-design impact measures for the program and its expansion using innovative, culturally informed and collaborative research methods.
“Partnerships between the community and universities are vital,” said program RMIT Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Ronnie Egan
“Co-designing a program like this, can have real impact on young people from African and other CALD backgrounds to express themselves through sports and have access to the services and pathways they need, promoting positive social change.”
Afri-Aus Care CEO Selba-Gondoza Luka echoed these sentiments.
“This program means African Australians involved in the Afri-Aus Care community can be confident that Afri-Aus Care and RMIT are working with them to find solutions to support their children, in sports and positive pathways,” she said.
The program delivery is underpinned by the UBUNTU philosophy which has proven to be a strong model of service delivery within this demographic. It has increased African Australian community members connected to Afri-Aus Care’s engagement with services that they have traditionally disengaged from.
Ubuntu is described as an African philosophy that places emphasis on 'being self through others'.
“Sport is a great way to help African youth build meaningful social connections and address mental health concerns, especially in a post-COVID environment. The benefit of this program is that it is evidence-backed. The researchers from RMIT worked tirelessly and incorporated community feedback in the co-design process which has been a massive success,” said Luka.
Collaborating to achieve success
RMIT’s Social Work and Human Services Cluster initially began working together when Afri-Aus Care provided RMIT social work students with placement opportunities to learn about African Culture and Ubuntu.
Afri-Aus Care and RMIT then began to speak about ongoing partnerships, including research.