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AFL Cape York House supporting young Indigenous men and women

In this photo AFL Cape York House students are pictured in traditional dress during 2017 NAIDOC Week celebrations

AFL Cape York House students during 2017 NAIDOC Week celebrations.


AFL Cape York House is a residential facility in Cairns for young Indigenous men who come from remote communities in Far North Queensland.

The house provides a secure, culturally appropriate place to live while they attend school during the day. The house provides support under a three-pillar approach to education, wellbeing, careers and transition.

The house is a tangible example of the commitment of the Australian and Queensland governments to close the gap in Indigenous education.

“Being a small to medium style residential space gives us the opportunity to develop a personalised plan for each of our students,” Program Manager, Rick Hanlon, says.

Having six to seven partner schools allows AFL Cape York House to provide a number of public and private schools for students and their families to consider.

“Each school has a special market they specialise in and depending on our students’ strengths and weaknesses we are able to look at the best fit scenario for student and school,” Rick says.

AFL Cape York House aims to break the cycle of welfare dependence in remote communities. Mentoring, vocational skills development combine with structured routines and positive role models to help the boys to develop positive self-esteem and break the cycle.

“Another strength of AFL Cape York House is how students get to have a break from school. Traditional residential facilities for remote students are normally connected directly to the school, in our case students get to come home each day without having the school as a 24/7 environment,” Rick says.

The house focuses on providing the boys with independence and life skills, a sense of pride and belonging, improving self-esteem and a culture of success and leadership.

The residential program caters for up to 40 secondary school aged boys. In Semester One of 2017, students were achieving an average school attendance rate of 95 per cent which climbed to 96 per cent later in the year.

And soon there will be an AFL Cape York House for girls. In 2017, the Australian Government announced an investment of $12 million investment in the future of Indigenous girls from Far North Queensland.

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