Posted on Thursday, 8 February, 2018
Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (13:53): On Tuesday I had the very great pleasure of catching up with Gerard Neesham. I met him many years ago with the great member for Canning Don Randall, who unfortunately has passed now. Gerard was a former teacher, a WAFL and AFL player, and the inaugural coach of the Fremantle Dockers, but his life's greatest work, without doubt, will be the fabulous success in establishing the Clontarf Foundation. It's an Aboriginal boys college. It started in Broome in 2000 with the backing of Brendan Nelson, who was education minister at the time. They had 25 students in the first intake with 12 in year 12. This year they have 7½ thousand students Australia-wide and 700 Aboriginal boys in year 12.
Clontarf uses the popularity of football—and not just for champions but for all—as the glue, the enticement, the reward for school engagement, and it works. There are astonishing figures. It operates in all the mainland states in Australia except South Australia. I know the history of why this is so, and this is not the time or the place to dwell on that, but we need South Australia to join this project. Let's look at Broome again, just briefly before I leave. When Clontarf started in 2005 there were 320 kids in the school, 100 Aboriginal kids and one Aboriginal kid in year 12 with a 55 per cent attendance rate. This year there are 960 kids in the school, 320 Indigenous kids and 21 of those kids are in year 12 and there is an 81 per cent attendance rate across the school. Well done, Clontarf. Well done, Gerard Neesham.