Books n' boots: Indigenous boys shown a better way through sports

Parkes Federal MP Mark Coulton and parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

Parkes Federal MP Mark Coulton and parliamentary secretary Alan Tudge. Photo: BELINDA SOOLE

DUBBO’S the next stop for a not-for-profit foundation that is keeping Aboriginal boys out of trouble and at school through participation in football academies.

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton understands that the Clontarf Foundation will establish academies this year at the Delroy and South campuses of Dubbo College for 240 targeted students.

He said when the Year 10 students moved to Dubbo College Senior Campus the foundation would “start one up there”.

Mr Coulton confirmed the foundation’s plans after accompanying Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister Alan Tudge to its jobs forum in Dubbo yesterday.

About 70 Western NSW Aboriginal students meeting Clontarf Foundation requirements to be involved in its academies learned where to look for jobs and how to get “essential paperwork in order”, including birth certificates and tax file numbers.

Dubbo school principals and employers took part in the event that also sought to boost the aspirations of participants.

Mr Tudge joined Mr Coulton in applauding the work of the foundation catering to about 2900 boys in 55 schools across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria and NSW.

Inverell, Armidale, Tamworth, Coonamble, Moree, Brewarrina and Bourke all have academies.

Foundation funding is equally provided by the federal government, state or territory governments and the private sector.

“There are many instances where the government puts money into Indigenous programs and you struggle to see the results,” Mr Tudge said.

“But this is not one of those instances.

“It gives them confidence, skills, self-discipline, all of which you need to succeed in school, succeed in a job, succeed in life.”

The foundation tells of year-to-year student retention “not less than 90 per cent” and school attendance rates “greater than 80 per cent”.

“In areas where Clontarf exists there has been evidence of reduced crime rates in the community,” its website reports.

Mr Tudge said the federal government’s current contribution to the foundation was $7 million.

“We have to do everything we possibly can to keep kids at school, learning, achieving and then getting them into work,” he said.

“We know that if you get a basic education and if you’ve got a job, then everything else tends to take care of itself.

“Your physical health is better, your mental health is better, the community is safer.” 

Mr Tudge said foundation staff included “important indigenous role models” for boys who sometimes were missing a “good strong male” presence in their lives.

The foundation, which established its first academy in 2000, also support graduates as they take up new jobs and plan for their future.

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