South High Clontarf Academy students enjoy a visit from NSW governor
South High Clontarf Academy students enjoy a visit from NSW governor

What is South Grafton High’s Clontarf Academy?

THE Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so, equips them to participate more meaningfully in society.

It is just over a year since we opened our Clontarf Academy in South Grafton High School, and the positive impact we have been able to have on the lives of the young Indigenous men in South Grafton High School has been incredible.

Our program, focused on improving the educational opportunities and outcomes for these young men uses a combination of sport, wellbeing, leadership, employment skills, education support and life skills development in order to engage the young men in school. Although we cannot reach everyone, those boys who do engage with the program, and behave within the academy’s code of conduct, benefit greatly from the mentorship and support that our program offers.

The Foundation:

The mission of the Clontarf Foundation above highlights the ethos of Clontarf and the mindset of its employees that run academies in schools all around Australia, 119 in total, catering to the needs of over 9000 young men nationally.

The South Grafton Team:

A big hello to the SGHS community from the Clontarf team.

Grant ‘Stumpy’ Stevens, age 31: I am a proud Gumbaynggirr man. I have lived, worked and played Rugby League in and around the South Grafton community for the past 11 years. I have a passion for working with youth and have done so in our community for the past 7 years.

Bobby Batty, age 30: I grew up in and around South Grafton and am an ex South Grafton High student. I started teaching in 2014 in a few schools around the valley, before moving to Brewarrina, where I was a secondary HSIE and Sports teacher for a few years. I am passionate about working with our young Indigenous men and helping them develop into the future leaders of our community.

South Grafton High School Clontarf Academy's staff.
South Grafton High School Clontarf Academy's staff.

Luke Walker, age 31: I’m a proud Wahlabul man from the Bundjalung Nation. I’m originally from Casino, moved to South Grafton two years ago for work. I started working with Clontarf at the start of the year and it is the best decision I have ever made. To work with Indigenous youth is something I’ve always been passionate about and I look forward to watching these young men grow into leaders.

The Academy:

Our academy is run within South Grafton High School and revolves around our academy room, which SGHS has generously provided for the program. This room is a buzzing hub of engagement, a place where the young men can come and access our program as well as wellbeing and educational support. We have a kitchen which we keep stocked with healthy eating options like fruit, cereal, milk sandwiches and muesli/nut bars, which the boys (and anyone else in need) can access before school, recess and lunch. We also have laundry facilities and hygiene products for the boys as well, which come in handy after a big training session.

One of the major aspects of our program is our morning training sessions, which involves us getting out in the buses from 5:30am and doing the round, picking up boys from all over the valley to participate in our morning footy training sessions. These usually run on a Tuesday and Friday morning, after which the boys get ready for school and have a hearty bacon and egg breakfast before going to classes. These training sessions help the boys begin to build good routines of early mornings and early nights, which will serve them well when they begin to prepare for the workforce.

In addition to these main activities, we also run engagement camps; sporting carnivals, competing against other Clontarf Academies all over Australia, as well as worksite visits. We have also partnered with Bulgarr Ngaru and Headspace, who have come into the school to conduct routine health checks and provide mental health support for our academy boys.

Academy highlights

Within the past 12 months, since our start we have had some really significant events and outcomes for the boys through the academy including:

  • Really positive relationship built within the local community, in particular Bunnings, who have employed two of our senior boys in the past six months.
  • Our Academy also had the privilege of having Rabbitohs five eighth, Cody Walker attend, present awards and speak to the boys at our Academy Awards night last year.
  • Significant school attendance improvement in many of our boys who engage with the academy.
  • Her Excellence, The Honourable Margaret Beasley AC QC, The Governor of NSW, along with local Member, Chris Gulaptis visiting the academy and spending time with the boys.
  • A great relationship with service providers such as Bulgarr Ngaru and Headspace, who have come alongside us to support our young men with physical and mental health support.

Thankyou to South Grafton High School and the families of our young Indigenous men, as well as all those other individuals and groups within our community, who work alongside us in order to help us achieve our mission and improve the outcomes of the young men who have found a place of support and belonging in our South Grafton Clontarf Academy.

Bobby, Stumpy and Luke

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