The Marshall Liberal Government has committed $2.75 million over three years to support the Clontarf Foundation to establish a presence in South Australia for the very first time.
Four Clontarf Foundation football academies will be piloted in South Australian public schools from next year to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys.
The four pilot academies will be established at Ocean View College, Port Augusta Secondary School and Port Lincoln High School, as well as a Whyalla academy that will work with secondary schools in the area.
The Foundation, which is also supported by the Commonwealth Government and the private sector, is a not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with schools to improve the attendance, retention and behaviour of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys.
The Foundation harnesses the students’ existing passion for Australian Rules Football, which is used to attract the boys to school and keep them there.
The program allows full time, locally based Clontarf staff to mentor and counsel students across a range of behavioural and lifestyle issues, while the schools cater for their educational needs.
Premier Steven Marshall said he is proud of the government’s new partnership with this important foundation.
“This exciting partnership will help us to harness the power of football to more actively engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in their studies,” said Premier Marshall.
“We have to do much more to actively engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys in education and support them to become successful men.
“Across Australia, Clontarf has had outstanding success over an extended period through its work supporting young people through a broad range of innovative activities to improve their education, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects.
“Many former Clontarf students now excelling in life; some have become AFL footballers, but many more are excelling across a range of fields.”
Education Minister John Gardner said the pilot has the potential to deliver significant outcomes.
“The Clontarf Foundation supports young people through a broad range activities within the focus areas of education, leadership, employment, healthy lifestyles, life and football,” said Minister Gardner.
“The foundation focuses not only on supporting individuals through their schooling, but beyond that into the workforce.
“These pilot academies will complement the ongoing work of the South Australian Sports Training Academy, which runs a wide variety of sport-based engagement programs from 21 public schools and four sports academies to help male and female students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island backgrounds to pursue their SACE.”
Clontarf Foundation Chief Executive Gerard Neesham said he was delighted that the Government has decided to commence a pilot in South Australia.
“This announcement is a significant milestone in the history of Clontarf and a huge step towards our goal of becoming a truly national program,” said Mr Neesham.
“Premier Steven Marshall and Education Minister John Gardner have been tremendous advocates in getting us to this point and we thank them for their ongoing support.
“There is a lot of work to be done in commencing the first of our South Australian academies, and we will now begin an extensive scoping process prior to beginning new operations.
“We are looking forward to working closely with South Australia’s Education Department, local businesses, communities and, most importantly, the Aboriginal people of South Australia as we embark on this exciting new chapter.”
The Clontarf Foundation has been operating for almost 19 years and currently operates academies in 97 schools across Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.