New Korin Gamadji Institute (KGI) Director, Aaron Clark, has shared his hopes for the center’s future.
Clark started in the role on Monday and spoke of his excitement and desire to provide a platform for Indigenous Australians.
“KGI to me offers a magnificent opportunity and place for people to excel and grow and that’s the essence of what Korin Gamadji means, to grow and emerge,” Clark said.
“There’s a number of challenges out there, we know statistics around Aboriginal health and schooling and even social justice issues out there. We’re really in a strong position to tackle some of those things.”
Clark has a strong Indigenous heritage – his family are Tjap-wurrung people of the Gunditjmara nation.
He also has an extensive sporting background – both on and off the field.
“Football has been the vehicle for me to have opportunity in my career,” he said.
“Not only just from a playing career in the VFL and a coaching career, but also most recently around AFL Victoria as the Indigenous Programs Manager there and leading a pretty strong piece around engagement of the Aboriginal community in football in general, right from grassroots to the elite talent pathways.”
Clark held the position at AFL Victoria for more than four years and was instrumental in establishing the Laguntas program.
The program, which is a partnership between the Richmond Football Club, AFL Victoria and the KGI, provides a talent pathway for Indigenous boys aged 16 to 19 years of age.
“When I started in my role at AFL Victoria, there had only been 14 Indigenous boys playing AFL football, who were drafted out of the TAC Cup system,” Clark said.
“In the last four years, we’ve had seven Aboriginal boys drafted onto AFL lists.
“Nathan Drummond and Daniel Rioli, who are at the Club, have come through those pathways, so it really shows me that Richmond is really keen to do bold things and you can see the enormous benefits it has for the Indigenous communities across Australia.”
Clark hoped the KGI, a unique and innovative Indigenous space focused on leadership development, education and training and career pathways, continued to empower Indigenous Australians to excel and grow.
He also wanted to build on the work of former Director, Belinda Duarte, by ensuring the center continued to be an industry leader in the Indigenous space.
“It’s a facility that’s culturally safe and inclusive,” he said.
“It’s something that has got strong foundations and strong connections to the Aboriginal communities throughout Victoria and even so nationally.
“It really comes from a position of strength, it isn’t a deficit type of model, the mad, bad and sad type of story, it’s about excellence, it’s about Aboriginal people excelling in life and not only in the sporting arena but certainly off field around employment.
“We have Aboriginal businesses hosted here, we’ve got the (Melbourne Indigenous Transition School) based (at KGI), transitioning children into private school opportunities.”