Mark Coulton MP, Federal Member for Parkes


Tuesday, 4 March 2014


 I rise to speak once again about the great work of the Clontarf Foundation. The Clontarf Foundation was first established in 2000 in Western Australia by Gerard Neesham, a former coach of the West Coast Eagles. It is an academy for Aboriginal boys in high school. From those beginnings with just 25 boys in 2000 it has now grown to having in excess of 2,900 boys in 54 schools across the country. The original concept was based around AFL using teenage boys' love of the football as a carrot to get them to go to school. In New South Wales it has now morphed into rugby league. In my electorate we have four Clontarf academies at Bourke, Brewarrina, Moree and Coonamble.

I had the privilege on the weekend to spend a couple of days water-skiing with the Clontarf boys from three of the academies. It was a great privilege for my wife and I to be part of this movement. Over the years a lot of money has been spent and a lot of effort put into trying to improve the lot of our Aboriginal people in our communities.

Clontarf seems to be getting results more than anything I have ever seen. It is quite intensive. The secret to Clontarf is the wonderful staff that are employed to manage it. The academies are within the school. They attend training early a couple of mornings a week. They attend regular lessons and they cannot undertake any of the Clontarf excursions unless it is signed off by the headmaster, so school attendance is going up. One boy in Moree had not attended school one day the previous year and now has attendance of over 80 per cent. We are getting results. Eight boys in Coonamble got their HSC last year. Three boys from Coonamble have now got traineeships in construction with Leightons Contractors in Sydney. They started two weeks ago. Clontarf are helping them with accommodation, and with mentoring to keep them in the job and to manage their income. Later I met a man in his 30s who was an original Clontarf boy and even though he has a partner, a couple of children and a good job, Clontarf was still helping him out by advising him in saving for a deposit for a home and things like that.

Clontarf is a wonderful academy. I believe there is a possibility we are going to see more in New South Wales rolled out and they have my full support.

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