Clontarf students learned about sourcing WA’s drinking water and future career options.

Clontarf students look at Water Corp careers

Ellenbrook Academy director says the Clontarf Foundation funding will provide the participants the support needed to stay on top of schooling.
May 16, 2024
Jacki Elezovich

STUDENTS were given an insight into careers in WA’s water industry last week, when a  group of 17  from the Clontarf Foundation toured Churchman Brook and Canning Dams and were given an up-close look at the processes and work behind Perth’s drinking water.

Water Corporation’s Aboriginal  employment and development team leader Hector O’Loughlin said the boys learned how WA’s drinking water is treated and protected, as well as more information about career pathways within the Water Corporation.

“One of the great things about being such a large organisation is the diverse opportunities we offer,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

“Hopefully students who took part in this tour now have a better idea of what a career in the water industry entails.”

He said the Water Corporation career day hosts up to 20 Clontarf students each year and has been doing so since Clontarf and Water Corporation first partnered together in 2008.

“The event began at Water Corporation’s Kelmscott depot where students were given an insight into the type of careers we offer. This includes roles like dam operators, engineers, catchment rangers, as well as a variety of traineeships and other career options,” Mr O’Loughlin said.

He said Water Corporation values how Clontarf graduates help grow their culturally diverse workforce.

“We’re incredibly proud of our partnership with the foundation, which has now seen 39 Aboriginal students join Water Corporation.”

Federally-funded, Clontarf Foundation programs focus on improving education, life skills and job opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

There are 148 local academies operating across Australia, based in community centres and high schools that supported more than 11,000 Clontarf students in 2023.

One of these academies is based in Ellenbrook Senior High School, and academy director Wayne Young said Clontarf programs help students stay engaged with school and motivated to keep working to graduate.

“The main goal is getting the boys to graduate Year 12, and the idea with Clontarf is that we’re here every day for them to support them doing that, we’re not just here for one or two hours a week.”

Before Clontarf started their Ellenbrook academy, Mr Young said Indigenous attendance at the school was below 58 per cent. That figure has grown to be consistently over 80 per cent this year.

Ellenbrook Senior High has been involved with Clontarf since 2020, and Mr Young said he has seen more than 60 boys go through the program.

Clontarf received $32.8 million in funding in the 2023-24 federal budget to run their programs around the country for another year, as part of the effort to “close the gap” in Year 12 attainment.

Mr Young said this funding contributes to the full-time care and support the boys receive, including yearly health checks, driving boys to and from school, and end-of-term  camps that many wouldn’t have been able to otherwise access.

Clontarf general manager of employment Marcus Harrold said partnering with companies was vital to create connections for graduates.

“It gives students an opportunity to live and work locally once they graduate, maintaining their connection to Country,” he said.

“I think the group came away from the visit quite enthusiastic about their future options, and with a greater appreciation for how we source and supply drinking water.”

Mr Young said students have pursued a range of career pathways post-graduation, from retail to trade and mining, and site visits help the boys to open themselves up to new possibilities after graduation.

“Site visits help us to gauge their (students’) interest in a certain pathway. And they see things they might not know about,” he said.

Clontarf extends their program after graduation, to monitor the boys in their employment and support them as they transition out of high school, one of the most important aspects of the program.

“A lot of boys have said they don’t feel they would have graduated without being part of Clontarf. And they get that support after they graduate too. If you’re a Clontarf boy, you’re part of the family for life.”

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