By Gerard Neesham, Clontarf Foundation CEO
Over the last few months, several Clontarf academies across New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland have been affected by school closures and restrictions, however I’m proud to say that like in 2020, our academies continue to operate and are supporting the young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who are enrolled in the programme.
In the worst affected academies, located primarily within the Greater Sydney region, staff are running daily activities for the boys via video conference and dropping off schoolwork packs to their homes. Our academy rooms are also open and our staff are welcoming those boys who are unable to do their schoolwork remotely.
Here are just a few examples of the ways our academies are helping Clontarf participants to stay healthy, positive and on track with their schooling:
- Matraville Academy starts every weekday morning with a Zoom call with the boys to make sure they are out of bed, have eaten breakfast and are ready for a full day of schoolwork.
- Mount Druitt Academy boys assisted a local charity to deliver groceries and other essentials to community members in need.
- Cranebrook Academy in Penrith hosted a mock interview session between senior academy boys and a local restaurant.
- Shalvey Academy in Mount Druitt ran a mental health and goal setting session via video with players from the Brisbane Broncos, Cronulla Sharks and South Sydney Rabbitohs NRL teams.
- Endeavour Academy in Caringbah are building a ‘Clontarf COVID Cookbook’ through a series of Zoom cooking classes (tacos have proven popular!).
- Airds Academy in Campbelltown ran a series of cooking and push up challenges, even getting the boys’ family members involved in the fun.
Clontarf staff are well versed in managing pandemic-related restrictions – we’ve dealt with a wildly changing environment over the past 18 months and remain steadfast in our resolve. All activities, whether conducted remotely or within the academy room, are done so within the restrictions enforced by the respective governments to ensure that the health and safety of staff and boys are maintained. This is our number one priority.
As we have done since the start of the pandemic, we’ll continue to monitor the situation and work with the Education Departments and our host schools to ensure our programme is back to normal operation as soon as possible.