North Queensland Toyota Cowboys legend and community ambassador Matt Bowen has made a special trip to Aurukun in western Cape York today to deliver a message of encouragement to students at the local school.
Travelling to the community with Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt, Bowen played football with students at the school and talked to them about the importance of getting a good education and to 'try for five' days of attendance a week at school for every week of term.
“'Try for 5!' is a program that the Cowboys are running in nine primary schools across the state through the Cowboys Community Foundation and with the support of the Australian Government,” Bowen said.
“While Aurukun is not one of the schools we are funded to run 'Try for 5!' in, we wanted specifically to come to the Cape to reinforce the message to kids here.
“As I know from my own experience growing up in Hope Vale, education will be a big part of these kids' futures.
"If we can do anything to encourage the kids in Aurukun to engage more fully in their school and their education, we will.
"It’s one of the important ways in which the Cowboys make a difference in North Queensland."
Bowen’s trip follows Johnathan Thurston’s special message to the children of Aurukun immediately after the first State of Origin last week.
"There's been a lot of trouble up there, so to all the students there, I want you to believe in yourselves and keep turning up to school," Thurston said on-field after the game.
Bowen also talked to year 6 students at the school about boarding options for secondary school and in particular, NRL Cowboys House, opening in Townsville next year.
“I talked with them about my own experience as a student boarding at St Teresa's Catholic College in Abergowrie and the opportunities that opened up for me,” Bowen said.
Minister Pitt explained that he was travelling to the community with Bowen and senior government officials to meet with the Wik Women’s Group and Men’s Group, councillors, local health staff and police officers on the ground.
“I want to hear from as many locals as possible about how we can work together to effect change – both in terms of the immediate priorities to ensure calm and also medium to long-term plans to develop economic opportunities and provide for future generations,” Mr Pitt said.
“We have started an honest dialogue about how we can best work together and I know community leaders have the knowledge and means to drive positive change from within.”
For more information on 'Try for 5!' and NRL Cowboys House, visit cowboysfoundation.org.au.