AFL Cape York today announced the appointment of former school principal, Richard Stewart as General Manager AFL Cape York House, a $5 million Cairns-based residential facility for young men from remote Indigenous communities.
More than 40 students from Cape York, the Torres Strait and Gulf of Carpentaria will live at the Buchan Street residence and attend public secondary schools.
Stewart, a former CEO of the Milingimbi community in north-east Arnhem Land, comes to the role with extensive experience in the education, boarding and careers sector.
The new General Manager will oversee the Cape York House facility which will provide a unique opportunity for young Indigenous men to complete school in an environment that promotes education, leadership, career pathways and footy.
AFL Cape York Chairman, John Hollander welcomed the appointment of Stewart and said the establishment of AFL House will provide comprehensive support for young men aged 13 to 17 years from Cape York, Thursday Island and the Gulf at a critical time of development.
“Stewart’s extensive background within the education and careers sector make him a great fit to lead the program,” said Hollander.
“Young men participating in the initiative will be kept very active. In addition to attending school they will play a role in setting up their own football club on site, footy training, volunteering, and for some part-time work,” Hollander said.
“I am proud of the innovative approach we are taking to indigenous education. This is more than a footy camp or hostel visit. Education, career pathways and leadership will underpin all we do. There will be on-the-ground support with mentors and house parents.”
Decorated AFL player and veteran of over 300 games, Michael (Mick) O’Loughlin said young Indigenous men will have an opportunity to develop playing, coaching and sports management skills.
“AFL Cape York House is a great way to empower young Indigenous men who can take both footy and leadership skills back to own rural community and the broader Australian community,” O’Loughlin said.
“For the past 15 years the AFL has been working with Indigenous communities in the Far North. As we establish the house we will be drawing upon our experience extensive working with remote communities to ensure we actively support and promote a strong Indigenous culture.”
AFL Cape York House is scheduled for completion in January 2013.