Victorian Seniors Commit to Final Year

‘Sharing the journey’ was the key message to Year 12 academy members who had travelled to Melbourne from across Victoria for a three-day leadership camp in early February.

Designed to prepare the boys for their final year of schoo, the annual camp is replicated in each Clontarf region across the country and attended by hundreds of senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys.

Victorian Regional Manager Ben Djuve said the Victorian iteration of the camp, which featured 24 boys from Bairnsdale, Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill and Warrnambool academies, focused heavily on developing camaraderie across the senior group.

“It’s important for these boys to come together as a team and develop a closer bond so they know they aren’t in this alone,” Ben said.

“Year 12 is an important year and it can be tough, and while parents/guardians, teachers and Clontarf staff can support them, they’ll also need to lean on each other to get the best education and employment outcomes.”

“There was also a focus on developing awareness amongst the group that they are an important part of advancing improved outcomes in the broader Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community. To build this understanding and create meaningful learning experiences across the camp, the boys were constantly challenged and taken out of their comfort zones through a variety of leadership and teambuilding activities.”

Committed: Year 12 boys from Bairnsdale, Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill and Warrnambool are locked in for their final year.

One of these activities included a round of team games on the Yarra River involving enthusiastic representatives from Clontarf partners, including the Australian Defence Force (ADF), BMD Group, Coates Hire, Kmart, Pinsent Masons and Swinburne University.

“The games encouraged the boys to consider their use of communication, problem solving and decision making,” Ben said. “All our partners understood the value of the camp and were eager to encourage the boys to strive. On behalf of all the boys, I want to thank our partners for participating and cheering the boys on.”

An important component of every Year 12 Leadership Camp is the signing of the pledge. Each boy who participates in the camp must sign an agreement that declares he agrees to adhere to the goals and ambitions set by the group.

The Victorian boys held their workshop at the St Kilda Football Club and featured football great and Saints head coach, Brett Ratten. Brett spoke with the group about the skills and attitudes required to be leaders within their community, family and academy.

Brett’s words resonated with the boys and after deep discussion and workshopping, the group pledged to:

  • focus on school attendance
  • always be honest
  • seek improvement
  • be respectful
  • staying positive
  • commit and stay focused

It wouldn’t be a Clontarf leadership camp without the boys having the opportunity to display some of their  skills in the local community. This year, the group volunteered with the Big Umbrella Foundation to help feed people experiencing homelessness. The boys had the opportunity to serve food and share stories with people doing it tough. For several of the boys, the stories were sobering and reinforced the need for them to be leaders in their own local communities.

“Each academy and their Year 12 boys were extremely impressive across the three days,” Ben said. “I could sense the desire and motivation to complete Year 12 together as group. Good luck to each of you, and we all look forward to shaking your hand on your graduation night.”

*The Victorian Year 12 Leadership Camp occurred on 10-12 February, prior to Victoria going into lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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