Rugby balls and Australian Rules footballs have a habit of bouncing in all directions, much like young men without support, encouragement and role models.

The Clontarf Foundation was created to improve the education, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

High achiever Tyson is studying law to break the cycle of Indigenous incarceration

In 2013, Tyson McEwan won the Highest Achiever in Kicking Goals prize for the best academic performance in his year in one of Clontarf's West Australian academies.

Last year, Tyson was awarded a Rio Tinto Scholarship and during the summer break completed a three-month internship with our Heritage and Agreements team in Perth.

This year he is studying law at the University of Western Australia.

"Why study law? I want to help break the cycle of Indigenous incarceration. It's an injustice, it's sad, and it's wrong. I also want to protect heritage sites as best as possible without interrupting industry. There is a better way to do it," says Tyson.

"It was my first experience of the corporate environment."

"What an experience! I learned basic skills such as time management, and I got to see a different side to Rio Tinto and meet all the great people who work there".

Rio Tinto's partnership with Clontarf

Clontarf uses sport – specifically AFL (Australian Football League) and Rugby League – to improve life skills and employment prospects.

By tapping into the passion the boys already have for these sports, the foundation is able to attract them to school and provides a social incentive for staying there.

Since opening its first academy for 25 boys in 2000, the foundation has grown to cater today for more than 6,500 Indigenous boys in 97 schools across Western Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Currently the school attendance rate for Clontarf participants nationwide is 80 per cent, and 90 per cent of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys enrolled at participating schools are members of the foundation’s academies.

Clontarf boys studying Clontarf boys studying
Clontarf boys showcasing their academic skills

Funding for Clontarf's programmes comes in equal parts from the Federal government, State or Territory governments and the private sector, with Rio Tinto being the foundation's first million-dollar partner.

As the national corporate partner, Rio Tinto's commitment to The Clontarf Foundation goes well beyond the annual financial donation.

Clontarf is built on relationships, and Rio Tinto employees spend time joining the boys for a game of footy or hanging out at a BBQ.

These interactions allow the young men to develop professional relationships in a comfortable and laid-back environment, which makes looking for and applying for employment down the track less intimidating.

Rio Tinto's people also talk to the students about employment pathways, what the interview process is like, and offer site tours that give insight into the resource sector.

Our employees, including our executive team, are passionate advocates for the programme, often introducing new corporate sponsors and donors to the foundation.