Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Grey Electorate: Clontarf Foundation
I'd like to speak this morning about Clontarf, the academy for Aboriginal boys, which uses football and sport as a tool to provide stability and purpose in their lives. It's very good if they produce football champions, but that is not the aim of Clontarf. It was founded by Gerard Neesham in 2000 with just 25 boys. Gerard was a schoolteacher and a footballer. He played a few games for the Sydney Swans, but he had a long career in the WAFL with East Fremantle, Swan Districts and Claremont. He coached Claremont and he was the inaugural coach of the Dockers. Without doubt, his finest work comes from the establishment of Clontarf, and that's what Gerard Neesham will be remembered for.
There are now more than 10,000 boys in 139 Clontarf academies around Australia, including 900 year 12s this year. In South Australia, I'd have to say we were late onto the bandwagon. The Labor government in South Australia was not keen on Clontarf because it was a boys only academy, but eventually we had a change of government and Steven Marshall said, 'We will have Clontarf here.' I remember speaking to Gerard about the boys-only aspect of Clontarf. He said, 'We find that if we can get the boys properly engaged, the girls do so much better as well, because the whole system becomes much more stable.' We were a late joiner, but we now have seven academies in South Australia and four in Grey: at Port Augusta, Whyalla, Coober Pedy and in Port Lincoln.
I was lucky enough to attend the graduation ceremony in Port Lincoln only a couple of weeks ago, and I would like to give a shout-out to those award winners there. The Junior Sportsman of the Year was Kale Miller-Dorrizie, the Senior Sportsman of the Year was Tristan Edwards. The Training Award was won by Jefferey Coleman. The Attendance Awards were taken by junior Blake Wells and senior Dre Vlassco. I might say that the Port Lincoln Clontarf Academy is achieving attendance rates of over 85 per cent, which is so fantastic when it comes to Indigenous kids. The Junior Encouragement Award went to Connor Kropinyeri, and the Senior Encouragement Award went to Brodie Carbine. The Good Bloke Award—in Clontarf good blokes are held in very high regard—went to junior Lucas Retallick and senior Kailan White. The Clontarf Spirit Academy Member of the Year went to junior Hudson Saunders and senior Nathan Hirschausen-Burk.
I would like to congratulate all of them. I would like to congratulate all of those in Port Lincoln involved with Clontarf but also those in Coober Pedy, Whyalla and Port Augusta. I get to their events when I can. I strongly support their work. It is a raging success.