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Image: Heeler and Olympic wheelchair basketball champion Brad Ness with Acacia Prison Director David Thompson OBE and Red Dust Heelers players.
Prisoners and staff from Acacia Prison have made a significant contribution to Western Australian wheelchair basketball with the donation of a new specially designed $15,000 trailer to the Cockburn-based Red Dust Heelers.
The Heelers is a sporting group that works with disabled people to help them participate in basketball and in turn drive disability inclusion in the community.
Holding back their programs was the ability to transport the chairs and equipment to compete and teach young disabled people in the community. Heeler and Olympic wheelchair basketball champion Brad Ness said the group was restricted by having to rent a trailer if they were to travel but that meant extra cost and equipment was open to damage and theft.
Mr Ness said that the group receives very little direct funding so it was important that as much as possible could be spent on the important programs.
“The trailer is purpose built and will allow us to take chairs, equipment and other things we need to run our programs in Perth and regional areas safely and securely,” he said.
“We know that there are many disabled people in regional areas that will benefit from sport and with this support we can now go further and more often.
“The work of the prisoners and Serco will benefit hundreds of people each year who otherwise would not have the same opportunity to participate and engage with their communities.”
Mr Ness had just returned from Port Hedland when the Heelers were presented the trailer by Acacia Director David Thompson OBE. The group had also committed to attending schools in the Goldfields as part its ‘Outback Academy’ working with Aboriginal youth.
For the prisoners from Acacia it means being able to pay back some debt to society as part of Serco’s focus on rehabilitation, reintegration and restorative justice.
Mr Thompson said staff and about 12 prisoners had helped to design and build the trailer from scratch.
“What was very impressive was the way they were able to visualise what was needed," he said.
“There is no design plan available so the men worked to overcome issues like how equipment could be accessed by the wheelchair basketballers safely and easily.
“There were two prisoners in particular who dedicated significant time to this project knowing that there is a part of the community who will really benefit and they, along with the staff, have appreciated the opportunity to contribute.
“The Heelers is an inspiring group and we look forward to them coming to the Prison for a game of wheelchair basketball so we can see first-hand the work they do.”
For more information and to support the Red Dust Heelers go to https://www.facebook.com/reddustheelers/
Media contact: Tim Evans, +61 409 389 358General media enquiries: Serco media line, +61 (0) 2 9409 8700 or firstname.lastname@example.org