The Morrison Government is providing nearly $2.5 million in additional funding for an innovative project to improve the health outcomes of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

The funding will be provided to the Clontarf Foundation to support its Health Project for a further 12 months.

It follows previous Commonwealth support for the Health Project of $4.4 million from 2012 through to 2018.

The Clontarf Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that partners with schools to establish sports academies for male Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

By engaging with our young First Peoples’ passion for sport, particularly Australian rules football and rugby league, the foundation encourages attendance at school and offers comprehensive support networks and initiatives including the Health Project.

Since opening its first academy in 2000, the foundation has grown to cater for more than 6,500 boys in 97 schools across Western Australia, the Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander boy attending a partnered school is eligible to participate.

The Health Project implements of a range of activities, including:

  • facilitating Medicare health checks, to be carried out by appropriate health care providers;
  • organising health and wellbeing sessions in response to identified health issues, delivered by appropriately trained staff or health professionals; and
  • training a percentage of Clontarf staff members in first-aid relevant to mental health.

The Health Project builds on the existing efforts of the foundation to address its participants’ health challenges, including taking students to specialist appointments, organising one-on-one counselling, and providing healthy meals and personal hygiene products.

By addressing the health needs and improving the health education of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men at an early age, the Clontarf Foundation can help set them on a positive path to reduce or avoid the need for ongoing treatment later in life.

I am encouraged by the positive outcomes of the Health Project to date, including increased levels of physical activity and intake of healthy food, as well as improved understanding of mental health issues and knowledge of where to seek help.

The additional funding for the Health Project also builds on the $40 million provided in 2017 to assist the foundation’s expansion and its broader efforts to improve participants’ education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects.