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North Queenslander Palmer Lee-Cheu (12) is a proud young Indigenous Australian – proud of his heritage, his place at NRL Cowboys House and in being chosen to accompany Human Rights Medal finalist Johnathan Thurston in Sydney for the award announcement on Friday.

Palmer will travel almost 3,000 kilometres from his home in the remote community of Laura, on the Cape York Peninsula in Far North Queensland, to attend the awards with Thurston, one of six finalists named by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The young Ignatius Park College student recently completed his first year at NRL Cowboys House, which supports some of the most disadvantaged young Australians to gain access to a quality secondary school education, and was given the unique opportunity as a reward for his efforts in 2017.

In addition to completing year 7 studies, Palmer received an award for “Most Outstanding Effort” at the House’s end-of-year presentation celebrations, and will return for a new school year with 50 young residents in 2018, as the House doubles its cohort.

Accompanying Palmer to Sydney will be Cowboys Community Foundation director Fiona Pelling, who says the opportunity will be something Palmer will cherish.

“As a club and a community, we are so proud of our co-captain Johnathan in being recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission for his inspiring work as a role model, mentor and ambassador for all Indigenous Australians,” Ms Pelling said.

“To be able to share this opportunity with young Palmer, and have him in the room as the man he admires so much is recognised as one of six outstanding finalists, is very special and it’s something he will treasure and learn from.”

The Human Rights Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia.

About NRL Cowboys House

NRL Cowboys House provides supported accommodation for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from remote communities in north-west and Far North Queensland, enabling them to access quality secondary education options in Townsville.

Managed by the Cowboys Community Foundation, the charity arm of the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys, NRL Cowboys House is a joint initiative between the National Rugby League, North Queensland Cowboys, Queensland Government and Australian Government.

For more information on NRL Cowboys House and the Cowboys Community Foundation, visit

Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.