The arrival of 30 students at NRL Cowboys House Girls Campus this week marks an important milestone for the Cowboys Community Foundation and the young women who now take up residence for the start of the 2019 school year.
The new Girls Campus, completed in December 2018, complements the existing Boys Campus, home to a projected 54 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in 2019, and would take the total number of students in residence at NRL Cowboys House to 84.
NRL Cowboys House provides supported accommodation for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from some of North Queensland's most remote and educationally disadvantaged communities, enabling them to access quality secondary education opportunities 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 Toyota Cowboys, the Queensland Government and the Australian Government.
As the students settle in to their new 'home away from home', preparations are now in full swing for the first day of school next week, with a variety of high schools and vocational education providers across Townsville partnering with the House for enrolments.
Cowboys Community Foundation director Fiona Pelling welcomed the girls and boys and the opportunities that having two campuses will offer.
"The advantage of having a campus that supports young men and also now young women is the opportunity for providing equality and gender parity to ensure that both our boys and our girls are given the same opportunities that NRL Cowboys House has been set up to provide," Ms Pelling said.
"NRL Cowboys House and the Cowboys Community Foundation would not be able to achieve what we have without the support of the Australian and Queensland governments and our commercial partners, individual supporters, volunteers and amazing staff."
Queensland Minister for Housing and Public Works Mick de Brenni said the new Girls Campus marks the start of an exciting journey for 30 students from Queensland's remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
"NRL Cowboys House Girls Campus will provide these promising young ladies with a wonderful range of opportunities – it's a supportive place to live while they access education and training, form friendships and acquire life skills," said Mr de Brenni.
"The girls will have access to specialised education support from North Queensland Cowboys staff, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community leaders and health professionals."
The Queensland Government has invested $12 million towards construction of the House, which supported more than 80 local jobs, additionally committing $2.5 million over four years to support the Cowboys in operating the facility.
The Girls Campus will reach full capacity with 50 students by the start of the 2020 school year.