For the first time it’s a full house at AFL Cape York House

Like any house the week school goes back, it’s a flurry of activity and anticipation. And at AFL’s Cape York House, it’s no different.

100 young people, who hail from remote parts of Far North Queensland, are settling into their home away from home and starting the first day of the school year.

From the Cape and Torres Strait to the Gulf and Northern Territory, for some they’re now hundreds of kilometres from their family and community, making the role AFL Cape York House plays in providing a positive life experience all the more important.

Greeting the young people with open arms is General Manager, Rick Hanlon, who says it’s a monumental year for AFL Cape York House; two purpose-built boys and girls boarding houses in central Cairns.

“This year we welcome 100 Indigenous youth, who represent 25 different Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities into our boys and girls houses. It’s the first time in our history we’re at capacity, every bed is taken,” he said.

“Our goal is to give the young people an opportunity to fulfil their potential in a culturally appropriate, safe and secure residential environment.

“While the young people will call AFL Cape York House home, they’ll all attend high-school locally at one of our 9 partner schools*.”

AFL Cape York House has a dedicated team of tutors, mentors, and support staff, who work hard to assist in the student’s transition.

“Imagine moving away from country, community, culture and family as an 11 year old?” says Boys House Manager, Kane Richter.

“It’s a big change transitioning from the local primary school in a regional community to attending high-school in Cairns.

“We do our best to place the students into the right school. Every school is different and different young people fit in better at different schools.

“Outside of schooling, we’ve got a wellbeing program to keep the young people’s bodies and minds healthy.

“Another important part of AFL Cape York House is preparing the young people to move into the world of work. We help them get their driver’s licence and part-time employment.

“And of course there’s no escaping household chores – they are shared amongst everyone at the boarding houses!”

So where does the footy come in?

“AFL provides teamwork, develops attitudes and commitment, and it improves your wellbeing physically and mentally. That’s where footy fits in,” said Mr Hanlon.

“Aside from our Foundation and boarding houses, we have an AFL game development team. They work remotely and are responsible for growing and developing Australian Football and striving to ensure the game of AFL is a way of life for every community.

“This year, we’ll visit more than 42 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities from across the Cape and Torres Strait. And we’ll engage over 12,000 participants through one of our many programs we deliver remotely.

For more information, visit:

*Partner schools include;
1. Bentley Park College
2. Cairns State High School
3. Redlynch State College
4. Smithfield State High School
5. Woree State High School
6. St Mary’s Catholic College
7. Freshwater Christian College
8. St Andrew’s Catholic College
9. Trinity Bay State High School

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