Midnight basketball helping youth around Australia

Sydney, 10 August 2009: Midnight Basketball Australia, a community-based program for 12-18 year olds, is extending its reach right around Australia with the support of the Commonwealth Bank.

Midnight Basketball Australia is an eight week program for ‘at-risk’ youth that combines competitive team sport with educational workshops that teach important life skills. The program runs on Saturday nights when many of these young people may find themselves otherwise at risk of harm or potentially dangerous situations and when other community services are not available. 

Since the launch of the first tournament in Redfern in 2006, the success of the program has seen Midnight Basketball expand nationally. By the end of 2009, 55 tournaments will have run in communities across Australia and this is expected to exceed 100 tournaments in 2010.

Ms Tess White, Chief Executive Officer of Midnight Basketball Australia, said the program is about much more than just sport.

“Midnight Basketball helps neighbourhoods support at-risk and marginalised teenagers, and the program truly transforms lives and helps break down barriers within communities,” she said.

“Players must attend the life-skills workshops we run each week in order to participate in the basketball competition. Building on essential life skills, these workshops deal with real and relevant issues for these youth, from health and wellbeing, substance abuse and anger control, to financial literacy and job readiness,” she said.

“The program brings together stakeholders including youth agencies, schools, police, local Chambers of Commerce, voluntary organisations, volunteers, parents and many others who work to build the foundations for a confident and resilient identity and promising future for their youth.”

Ms White said the support of the Commonwealth Bank has been instrumental in launching and extending the program.

“The funding from the Commonwealth Bank has provided help with our event logistics, start up kits, and the development of the Midnight Basketball Tournament Portal, a website that helps each community manage their own tournament and helps us cut back on Head Office Administration fees and resources,” she said.

“This support has meant we can focus on increasing the number of tournaments in local communities around Australia and building an even stronger program.”

“More importantly, Commonwealth Bank volunteers sit on Community Steering Committees that build the program in their local community as well as giving up their own time on Friday and Saturday nights to play basketball and act as mentors and coaches for participants.”

Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Ms Barbara Chapman, said the Commonwealth Bank, through its Staff Community Fund, is proud to support such a worthy organisation.

“Our Staff Community Fund, the oldest in Australia, has been supporting the health and wellbeing of Australian youth since 1917,” she said.

“Midnight Basketball Australia is a fantastic organisation and we are very proud to support their programs, which have a real and positive impact on the young people who participate.”

For further information on running Midnight Basketball in your community please visit www.midnightbasketball.org.au or email Sue Hogan at sue.hogan@midnightbasketball.org.au

For further information on the Commonwealth Bank’s commitment to the community, go to www.commbank.com.au/community

For more information contact:

Holly Williams

Commonwealth Bank

Ph: (02) 9378 7130

About Commonwealth Bank Staff Community Fund

The Staff Community Fund was formed in 1917 and is Australia’s longest running employee contribution program.  4,000 current and retired Bank staff make regular salary contributions to support children’s charities in Australian communities.   All administrative costs for the fund are met by the Bank; ensuring 100 per cent of funds raised go directly to children’s charities. The Fund distributes over $1 million each year to support various causes that work with Australian children including Midnight Basketball, Clown Doctors and the Community Grants Program.