The concept of sporting clubs and the game of netball is not something many refugee children are familiar with, but thanks to 2017 Australia Post One Netball community award winner, Lauren Coelli, it’s now part of life for many young families in Albury.
Lauren works closely with the Albury Wodonga Volunteer Resource Bureau, to run a weekly netball clinic that has been creating an inclusive environment for children and families from refugee backgrounds for over four years.
She said: “Albury is a high settlement area for Nepalese and Bhutanese refugees and we saw that there was a real need to get young people into organised sport, so we created the program. A lot of the children that started near the beginning are now playing in organised teams and they love it, which is testament to how successful it has been.
“One of the great things about it is that all the families come out and watch as well, so we have quite a big following on Saturday mornings – no matter how freezing it is.”
Lauren was selected as a winner of an Australia Post One Netball community award last year and was awarded her prize by one of the award’s ambassadors Elaine Osei-Safo – who also took a clinic at the Albury Netball Association Family Day.
She continued: “I felt extremely honoured, even though I won the award it was a huge team effort. It was a highlight on a personal level and was one of the coolest things I’ve done.
“It’s nice, the work that we do we would do anyway, so to be recognised for it is very humbling. I get enormous pleasure out of doing this, because the families love it, and the kids are really invested – which also makes my job easy to be honest.”
What the Albury clinic has done to improve people’s lives
Lauren teaches young children from diverse backgrounds netball skills through the Inclusion NetSetGO program, Netball Australia’s modified program for children from Indigenous and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities, which in turn provides a pathway for the participants to join local clubs within the association.
Because of the confidence and skill-building achieved with Lauren’s help, four Inclusion NetSetGO participants from last years’ program are now playing with local netball clubs, whilst continuing to attend the Saturday sessions with Lauren.
Lauren continues: “There’s one girl, Laxna, who has moved through the program and is now playing for her high school team as-well-as representative netball. She also has the confidence and the ability to run the program when I go away, which she did recently when I was holiday for two weeks.”
Lauren has also made a point of welcoming the parents and families of the program participants, through initiatives such as a ‘kids versus parents’ game. Encouraging parents’ involvement in the program not only provides an opportunity for interaction with the wider community but demonstrates the social benefits of being involved in a sporting club community.
Lauren said: “We run throughout the term a family day and to be honest, I think the parents enjoy playing netball more than what the kids do. It’s a lovely opportunity for families to come along, socialise and meet other families if they’re new to the area.”
About One Netball
Australia Post is the Community and Social Inclusion Partner of Netball Australia, and together they have partnered to deliver the Australia Post One Netball Program (One Netball) since 2014. The program aims to engage Australia’s increasingly diverse communities through the sport of netball with the message that everyone, regardless of background or ability, is welcome.