Kevin Richard Coombs, OAM (born 30 May 1941) is an Australian wheelchair basketball legend who competed at 5 Paralympics including the first Paralympic Games in 1960. He was the first Australian Aboriginal Paralympic competitor for Australia.
Kevin is a Wotjobaluk Elder who was born in Swan Hill and raised in Balranald, New South Wales. He is much loved and respected by communities all over Australia for his work championing Aboriginal health and the needs and interests of people with disability. At 12 years of age, Kevin was left with paraplegia after being accidentally shot in the back while out hunting with his cousins. At the time, there was no specialised care for people with spinal injuries. Kevin developed bedsores while in a Swan Hill hospital and had to spend 12 months lying on his stomach to recover. The Austin Hospital in Melbourne became his home for the next 10 years, largely because there was nowhere else for him to go.
Kevin’s community service and Paralympic journey has been outstanding. The Red Dust Heelers team believe his story and leadership represents all they hope to inspire and encourage in all Australians as the team plays and works across Australia – courage, persistence, and the willingness to have a go – to dream, connect and make a difference. What is inspirational about Kevin’s story is how focused his life has been on making others’ lives easier, including people with disability, the homeless, those affected by alcohol and other drugs, and his community far and wide.
The Red Dust Heelers are very proud to have Kevin Coombs as their Patron and aspire to represent him to the best of their abilities.
Evonne Goolagong Cawley, AO, MBE (born 31 July 1951) is an Australian former World No. 1 female tennis player. She was one of the world’s leading players in the 1970s and early 1980s, when she won 14 Grand Slam titles: seven in singles (four Australian Open, two Wimbledon and one French Open), six in women’s doubles, and one in mixed doubles.
Evonne and husband Roger Cawley established and lead a highly successful Aboriginal program which uses tennis as a vehicle to promote and help provide better education and health outcomes through diet and exercise. The program is now run under the auspices of the Evonne Goolagong Foundation. Evonne and Roger also advocate for the inclusion of young people with disability into all sports – and their encouragement to the Red Dust Heelers team and Wheeling and Healing Programs is greatly valued by the Outback Academy and Red Dust Heelers.
The Red Dust Heelers in turn support Evonne and Roger where they can in their encouragement to young people to keep going with the hard yards in their sport and education.
Syd Jackson (born 1 July 1944) is a former Australian rules footballer who played with the Carlton Blues during the 1970s. He usually played in the centre or half forward flank.
An Indigenous Australian, Jackson started his professional footballing career at East Perth in 1963. He was equal first in that year’s Sandover Medal count although he was ineligible due to suspension and in 1966 he was named East Perth’s best and fairest.
Syd was removed from his family and homelands in Leonora Western Australia as a child to the former Roelands Mission (now Roelands Village) under Assimilation policies of the day. Syd is a strong advocate for the Red Dust Heelers and Red Dust Healing programs bringing his love of competitive sport and recreational opportunities to his Ambassadorial role.
Darryl is a Noongar man from the Narrogin area of Western Australia who has worked tirelessly for his people for more than 40 years.
He has dedicated his life to community development, land rights, education, health and policy.
Beginning his career as a sportsman, Darryl enjoyed success as a champion boxer and Australian Rules footballer.
After completing a degree in social science Darryl was made Head of the Centre for Aboriginal Studies at the Curtin University. During this time, Darryl and his team developed the hugely successful Community Management and Development Course.
Darryl has made an outstanding contribution in Aboriginal health. As the CEO of the Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia, significant advancements were made in health care delivery, child and maternal health, chronic disease and mental health.
Recently, Darryl has been responsible for bringing the Red Dust Healing Program to communities in WA, a program supporting a healthy path in life. As a result of Darryl’s vision, Noongar men are coming together to work towards spiritual healing.
Darryl is also the Red Dust Heelers Team Mentor. He supports the team advice to cultural respect protocols as they work with communities across Australia, and reinforces the principles and values of the Red Dust Healing program with the team and officials. Red Dust Healing Founders Tom Powell and Randall Ross work closely with Darryl supporting the Red Dust Heeler’s approaches to work with communities.