The Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks program aims to strengthen the link between sport and community health outcomes. Based in Alice Springs, the program was established by locals for locals and centres on strengthening the protective factors and provides improved health and employment opportunities to reduce alcohol and drug harm.
Partners in the program believe it is the community involvement that makes it strong.
Sarah Carmody, a Health Officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) which is part of the Alice Springs Local Drug Action Team (LDAT), says the reason why sport is so important to them is that it provides the capacity to influence, inform and shape attitudes and behaviours. Sport is a powerful way to empower, motivate and inspire change, on and off the field.
“The Red Tails Pink Tails program shows sport is a powerful environment to connect children, men and women with vital information, skills and strategies to push for inclusive, equitable, healthy and safe sporting spaces for everyone,” Sarah says.
They engage footy teams as well as netball and softball and other teams in the communities of Central Australia.
Working with the CAAC and other partners has given the program strong links to public health and other clinical expertise. This means that the Alice Springs LDAT can take the health programs out into communities and teams and target the alcohol and other drug issues in those areas.
The LDAT is being very specific about what it does and who it works with. Ian McAdam who is the Sports and Health Coordinator for CAAC, says that the team recognises that they aren’t the experts in everything and they make an effort to bring them in where appropriate.
This focus on evidence means they can work closely with sporting clubs to challenge negative behaviours and encourage supportive environments for everyone.
“We deliver sessions about the effects of alcohol and how it can affect not only a [program] member, but your performance and affect whole club and look ways they can challenge these behaviours. The evidence is that everyone, such as players and volunteers should feel safe, valued and a sense of belonging, not only to their team but their sporting club,” Sarah says.
The Alice Springs LDAT is a good example of how sporting clubs and other community organisations can work together to create positive change.
“Prevention work should be ongoing core business from a local level from the very beginning. This is the ripple effect which can not only change members, but the whole community.”