Breaking the Cycle

Football star Dean Rioli does his bit to make a difference.

A new fund founded by AFL legend Dean Rioli has been established, to raise much-needed awareness and funding for Indigenous health research.

The Rioli Fund was launched last month at a gathering of some of Melbourne’s most influential business people and philanthropists. Guests were presented with information about some of the many serious – and preventable – health problems facing Indigenous Australians in remote communities.

The fund will focus on raising money for Aboriginal child health and mental health research through Charles Darwin University’s Menzies School of Health Research.

Dean grew up in the Tiwi Islands, experiencing some of the most beautiful beaches and landscapes in the country. But he also experienced first hand the poverty and poor health conditions his family, friends and community faced.

Over the years, as his football career took off and he moved first to Western Australia and then to Melbourne, the differences in living conditions between Indigenous Australians and non-Indigenous Australian’s grew more apparent to him.

Poor health, lack of education and a general lack of understanding by others about Aboriginal culture made Dean sit up and vow to use his skills and connections to take real steps to improve this situation.

“Indigenous kids face a bleak future,” he says. “They’re suffering from chronic ear disease, skin sores and scabies, and respiratory diseases like pneumonia at epidemic proportions.

“Young men are committing suicide and people are turning to substance abuse, which is breaking up families and communities.

“We need to break this vicious cycle and one of the ways we can do this is through research. Research helps us find solutions and make sure that our efforts are likely to work.”

Director of Menzies, Professor Jonathan Carapetis expresses his gratitude to Dean and fellow AFL legend Kevin Sheedy (an ambassador to the fund) for their commitment to Indigenous health research.

“Attempting to address the issues around Indigenous health needs a multi-pronged approach,” he says. “We can’t just rely on government support to fix this problem.

“The issues are of such enormity that a great deal of community and corporate backing is needed, not only to raise much-needed funds, but also to act as a catalyst to drive political will.”

More information on the Rioli Fund for Aboriginal Health can be found at

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