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NRL Cowboys House – closing the opportunity gap


An Indigenous man and non-Indigenous man sit at a table with Indigenous children while other adults and an Indigenous boy stand in the background.
Minister Scullion and Johnathan Thurston share breakfast with students at NRL Cowboys House dining hall
21 Mar 2017

The new NRL Cowboys House has officially opened in Townsville, with 25 students from nine remote communities around North Queensland moving into the residence at the start of the school year.

The boarding house provides young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men a place to live and study while they complete secondary education or access school-aged apprenticeships. The strategy of the house is to ensure all participants ultimately find employment.

The focus is also to develop strong leadership capabilities while remaining connected to culture in their new environment.

The students helped to develop house values, participated in workshops about resilience and supported the establishment of student leadership groups in the NRL Cowboys House.

Building with a sign that reads NRL Cowboys House. In foreground is green grasss and concrete path.
NRL Cowboys House in Townsville officially open

And of course, the students will benefit from having a National Rugby League team supporting them, with two football legends, Matthew Bowen and Johnathan Thurston as their mentors.

Improving education for Indigenous students, particularly from remote communities, is vital in closing the employment gap.

The first 25 students were selected in consultation with their families, community, local schools and Education Queensland’s Indigenous Schooling Support Unit.

Their selection was based on their behaviour, attendance and academic results, as well as an overall consideration of whether they would benefit from being in a new environment.

The boarding house provides a family orientated living environment for male students, supporting them to complete their studies from year 7 to Year 12.

Facilities include student accommodation in the Matthew Bowen and Johnathan Thurston housing wings, a multi-purpose all weather sporting facility, a dining hall, recreation room and learning centre.

Four Indigenous students sitting at a long table with breakfast bowls on the table. A man and two women are standing behind the students
Getting ready for the day

A full time education manager will work with students to achieve their learning potential, while students’ health and wellbeing will be supported through a partnership with the Townsville Aboriginal and Islanders Health Service. 

Schools in remote communities of North Queensland are now successfully using the opportunity to attend NRL Cowboys House as an attendance incentive for their students.

Developed in partnership with Indigenous communities, the boarding house sits on land provided by the Queensland Government and includes a covered basketball court.

Maintenance costs will be met by the Queensland Government while the house itself will be run by the North Queensland Cowboys through its Cowboys Community Foundation.

Find out more

NRL Cowboy House is a $9.5m joint initiative of the North Queensland Cowboys, the NRL and a National Partnership Agreement between the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.

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