Cape York Regional Manager Rick Hanlon has been recognised with an Order of Australia Medal in today’s Australia Day honours for his services to Australian Rules Football.
Following a successful Australian Football career in Tasmania, Mr Hanlon moved to Cairns in 1998 as the AFL’s North Queensland Regional Manager before shifting his focus to the Cape York region.
Mr Hanlon’s pinnacle achievement was the development of AFL Cape York House in 2013, a 48 bed boarding facility based in Cairns that provides for the education and nurturing of remote young people to the highest academic levels.
The vision for AFL Cape York House was to create a best-practice, sustainable, highly engaged community development organisation to support as many young people as possible from across the many varied communities within the Cape York region.
AFL General Manager Inclusion and Social Policy, Tanya Hosch, said she was pleased someone within the AFL family had received one of Australia’s highest individual honours today.
“Rick Hanlon has dedicated nearly twenty years of his life to promoting Australian Football within North Queensland and in doing that has provided young people of the region with education and career opportunities through our sport,” Ms Hosch said.
“Identifying Australian Football as a vehicle to engage Indigenous young people from Cape York and the Torres Strait, and the strength and potential of young people, supporting their further participation and development in education, family and community is a particular highlight of Rick’s impact and work.
“Through all of this, the concept of AFL Cape York House was born, and even though the development of the house was ten years in the making, Rick and his team have created a facility that continues to enrich the lives of young Indigenous men each year.
“On behalf of the collective AFL family, we would like to congratulate Rick on this honour and thank him for his continued and dedicated work to AFL and the wider community,” she said.
AFL Queensland CEO Dean Warren echoed Ms Hosch in congratulating Mr Hanlon.
“To be recognised in the Australia Day Honours is a testament to the enormous impact Rick has had on the Far North Queensland community and in particular, Indigenous youth from Cape York and the Torres Strait,” Mr Warren said.
“He is a man of passion, vision and drive whose refusal to the accept the status quo was a catalyst for the AFL Cape York Program, which continues to have a significant impact on life outcomes for Indigenous boys and girls.
“Rick’s work in establishing AFL Cape York House is transforming the lives of disadvantaged young men, and their communities, through education and increased opportunity.
“This is wonderful honour and fitting acknowledgement for his inspiring contribution to the AFL and broader community.”