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AFL Cape York House developing the next generation of Indigenous leaders

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Three young Indigenous men sitting on a couch and smiling.
Nathaniel, Saige and Kaleb relax at AFL Cape York before moving on to further study.
25 Feb 2016

When three young men from northern Queensland recently completed Year 12, they were the toast of their respective communities and the result of a programme designed to help young Indigenous men reach their full potential. 

While Kaleb Harrigan, Saige Reid and Nathaniel Tamwoy attended high schools in Cairns they were residents of AFL Cape York House, a not for profit organisation funded by the Australian and State governments’ Indigenous Housing Partnership programmes. The House is designed to provide educational, employment and training opportunities for young Indigenous men from north Queensland’s most remote communities and the three men are great examples of the programme’s success.

The three young men not only graduated and are going on to further study but have proven to be inspirations for many of the other Cape York House residents. They are tipped to be future leaders, not only in their communities, but across north Queensland.

Nathaniel, an Argun man from Badu Island in the Torres Strait, said that the House was a vital part of his successful Year 12. 

“AFL Cape York House got me out of my shell and made me do things I would not otherwise have done,” Nathaniel said.

“It showed me that there are other smart young Indigenous men around that are achieving and this gave me belief in my abilities and the confidence to succeed in school and in life,” he said.

While Nathanial had an amazing year, doing everything from representing the Under 20s Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby team in the United States to presenting at the Dr Chris Sarra “Making Tomorrow” Forum at Sydney University, his friends were also high achievers. 

For example, Kaleb, a Kukuyalanji man from Wujal Wujal, one hundred and seventy kilometres north of Cairns, organised his school’s NAIDOC celebrations and served as AFL Cairns Eagles President, as well as demonstrating his skills in rugby league and union.

And Saige, a Lardil man from Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpenteria, significantly contributed to his school sports programme, and served as Co-Captain of AFL Cape York House, working with younger residents to reach their full potential.    

While the three friends head separate ways this year, with Kaleb undertaking an apprenticeship with Rio Tinto in Weipa in northern Queensland, Saige studying at James Cook University in Townsville and Nathaniel moving down south to attend the University of Sydney, they have shown what can result from commitment and hard work. Their legacy at AFL Cape York House will be significant for future young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in northern Queensland.

Find out more

One of the objectives of the Indigenous Advancement Strategy is to improve the lives of Indigenous Australians through increasing Year 12 attainment and pathways to further training and education.

AFL Cape York House is a not-for profit organisation, funded by the Australian and Queensland governments, and supported by Aboriginal Hostels Limited, Indigenous Schooling Support, Education Queensland and the Australian Football League.

The House provides educational, employment and training opportunities for young indigenous men from some of far north Queensland’s most remote communities in a culturally appropriate, safe and secure residential environment to ensure every boarding student has the opportunity to reach their potential.

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