The Clontarf Foundation has been delivering its program to young Indigenous males since its inception in 2000. The program was begun by the inaugural Fremantle Dockers coach Gerard Neesham who began with 20 participants at the Clontarf Aboriginal College in Perth. Clontarf now operates in partnership with schools in Western Australia, New South Wales and the Northern Territory. Over 1600 students participate in the Clontarf program.
Clontarf uses Australian Rules as the vehicle to engage Indigenous teenage fellas into its program. Strong relationships are built between the students and Academy staff with the core objective being to positively influence attendance and retention of participants in education. The aim is to help build the self-esteem of participants and equip them with life skills that will enable them to make informed decisions that positively influence their lives now, and in the future. Support is also provided for participants in post-secondary school studies and employment.
The Clontarf program has been working in partnership with Yirara College since the beginning of 2007. On average 70-80% of male students are actively involved in the program and its activities. Football training is held in the mornings before breakfast, and games are played regularly against the town based and other Clontarf academies. Students are rewarded for participation in the form of camps and Clontarf apparel that they wear with pride.
Clontarf staff members are involved in, and support the academic program. Clontarf staff visit classrooms to make contact with students during the day, and on occasions take classes for a variety of activity based learning opportunities.
Students can ‘hang out’ in the Clontarf academy room at recess and lunch times. They can read, play pool and table tennis or chat with friends and Clontarf staff.