Aboriginal programs

The department is focused on creating environments to increase Aboriginal participation in organised sport and active recreation as athletes, coaches, officials and administrators from grassroots programs through to elite competition.


Participation in sport and recreation plays a vital role in improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal people and their communities. It provides a range of benefits including increase self esteem, social cohesion, better health and overall wellbeing.

WA Aboriginal Sports Council (WAASC)

The WAASC was convened by the former Department of Sport and Recreation in November 2016 to oversee and advise on the development of a new sport and culture agenda for Aboriginal people in WA.

There are six members, of which five are external appointments, namely Bruce Loo (Chair), Mick Albert, Michael Mitchell, Cheryl Kickett-Tucker and Clive Walley. Antoni Grover, Evan Stewart and Liz Toohey are representatives from the department.

The need for its establishment emerged through an extensive stakeholder engagement process which culminated in a discussion paper: Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Service Delivery: A Discussion Paper, May 2016, Department of Sport and Recreation. It followed the Federal Government’s decision to cease support for the Aboriginal Sport Development Program (known nationally as the Indigenous Sport Program), which it had funded for around 20 years.

WA Aboriginal Sports Council Terms of Reference


Wirrpanda Foundation

This partnership delivers shared skills, knowledge, mentoring, funding and resources to communities across the Great Southern region. It provides staff with training and development, building community capacity and sustainable services in regional communities. 

Visit the Wirrpanda Foundation website for more information.

Kaat Koort n Hoops (KKnH)

This partnership is a comprehensive lifestyle program that uses basketball to build the capacity and skills of young people, in particular Aboriginal youth, within the City of Swan. The program is delivered from the Swan Park Leisure Centre, located in Midvale, to develop the basketball skills of children four to 13 years. KKnH also develops the skills of Aboriginal high school students aged 14 to 17 years by delivering basketball training to the younger children.

Visit Koya Aboriginal Corporation's Kaat, Koort N Hoops (KKnH) website for more information. 

Geraldton Sporting Aboriginal Corporation (GSAC) in the Mid West

This partnership expands the Indigenous Lifestyle Development Project increasing physical activity in the community through sport and active recreation. It aims to increase community safety and wellbeing, and improve health within each community.

Adrian Bartlett
Project Officer
Email the GSAC Project Officer

Newcrest Mining and Ngurra Kujungka

The Western Desert program is delivered through a partnership with Newcrest Mining. Now in its sixth year it has helped develop Ngurra Kujungka Inc (formerly Western Desert Sports Council) work with remote schools to run sports carnivals and other activities in Aboriginal communities. Elders, parents, children and other service providers are now intimately involved in the program.

The program partners with State Sporting Associations (SSAs) to encourage Aboriginal people to try new sports and join local clubs and associations. This creates stronger community connections and enables talented participants to be identified and supported to participate at high performing levels.

Michael McMonigal
Ngurra Kujungka Program Manager
Email the Ngurra Kujungka Program Manager

From grassroots to elite athletes

Additional support and funding for programs has been allocated through a number of sports and associations to support the development of programs and participants from the local community level, through to elite athletes. Supporters include:

Nicky Winmar Carnival and Kirby Bentley Cup 

These key WA football carnivals involves members of the Aboriginal community at all levels including players, coaches, umpires and administrators. The carnivals encourage youth to actively participate in sport and understand how important support roles are important to run successful teams. They help participants gain skills, play competitively and have the opportunity to be selected for development pathways.

More information about the Nicky Winmar Carnival and Kirby Bentley Cup.

Aboriginal Grassroots Netball Program

Delivered by Netball WA, this program increases opportunities for Aboriginal players to progress through talent pathways from community participation to high performance athletes, volunteers, coaches and administrators. Grassroots clubs gain capacity to join mainstream competitions which increases cross-cultural awareness, skill levels and accreditation opportunities.

The program also partners with Netball WA to run the successful annual NAIDOC Netball Carnival.

Netball players on court at the State Netball Centre during NAIDOC Week 2015

 NAIDOC Netball Carnival

Supported by the department, the NAIDOC Netball Carnival is a highlight of the netball calendar, where teams, officials, volunteers and spectators come together to celebrate sport, cultural diversity and friendship.

The 2018 Carnival attracted over 100 teams and 3000 spectators, with funds raised going to the Aboriginal Grassroots Netball Program and NAIDOC All-star team.

NAIDOC Basketball competition with paricipants playing at the Bendat Basketball Centre

NAIDOC Basketball Carnival 

The NAIDOC Basketball Carnival is an initiative Basketball WA has developed in partnership with the department. The carnival aims to support increased participation in playing, coaching and umpiring while celebrating the significant contribution Aboriginal people have made to the Western Australian community. 

For more information about the NAIDOC Basketball Carnival

Optus Stadium

After obtaining conditional consent to use the Burswood site to construct the Optus Stadium, the State drafted a Aboriginal Heritage Management Plan and Aboriginal Engagement Strategy. Done in consultation with the Whadjuk Working Party this ensures ongoing engagement, management and heritage protocols are adhered to.

Local Sporting Champions

The Local Sporting Champions program is an Australian Government initiative designed to provide financial assistance for young sportsmen and women aged 12 to 18 years. If successful, applicants will receive a $500 grant that can be used towards the cost of travel, accommodation, uniforms or equipment when competing, coaching or officiating at an official national sporting organisation endorsed state, national or international sporting champions or a School Sport Australia, State, national or international championships. 

The Australian Sports Commission provides more information on the Local Sporting Champions Program.

Page reviewed 17 March 2021