Wesfarmers’ longstanding association with the Clontarf Foundation (previously the Clontarf Football Academy) continues to provide valuable opportunities for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to pave their own career and life path.
We got in touch with 2002 Clontarf graduate Jeff Farrell to revisit his journey from high school to employment with Kleenheat and the personal and professional highlights that followed.
Getting to know Jeff
Four hundred kilometres north of Perth is Geraldton, a coastal city of 33,000 residents where Jeff was born and raised.
During these early years, he discovered his love of Australian Rules football and considered himself as a patient and passionate Fremantle Dockers supporter.
I absolutely love watching good, tough, skillful football – regardless of the teams playing – so I often found myself cheering at the TV and singing along to any of the team songs”.
Like so many WA locals, Jeff was as passionate about playing football as he was watching.
This led him to the Clontarf Football Academy, where at 16 years of age he became one of the Academy’s first students and kicked off his pathway towards future health, happiness and career growth.
“I wasn’t a great junior footballer, but I knew Clontarf was an environment for me to get better and if my work ethic was right then my football would improve”.
Improving his football skills wasn’t Jeff’s only incentive to attend Clontarf; it was also his determination to succeed in all aspects of life.
The Clontarf Football Academy
First opening its doors in 2000, the Clontarf Football Academy is a not-for-profit organisation harnessing a shared love of Australian Rules football to encourage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men to stay in school.
Today, Clontarf has helped more than 3,000 students complete Year 12 and find fulfilling employment – many building successful careers, starting families and maintaining healthy and happy lives.
“I knew that Clontarf presented far more opportunities for me than my situation at the time”, Jeff said.
He believes Clontarf is to thank for helping him recognise the value of hard work – learning he now passes on to his children.
Working hard for rewards
As one of Clontarf’s first graduates in 2002, Jeff began working life with a traineeship supporting Kleenheat’s IT needs.
He thoroughly enjoyed the work and built strong friendships with colleagues – many of whom he remains in contact with today.
But it’s one early memory he fondly recalls, perhaps as it revolves around his love of football.
“In the early days at Clontarf there wasn’t enough football jumpers and I remember Kleenheat bought us some. All the boys signed a jumper, got it framed and gave it to the business” Jeff said. “That was the first time I learned about Kleenheat’s relationship with Clontarf.”
Once completing his traineeship, Jeff continued as an IT Technical Support Officer for three years and recalls a welcoming and inclusive work environment.
“I started my working life with an organisation that wanted me to succeed”. I was given flexibility, but also structure and that was key in helping me feel comfortable enough to stay with the business.”
Jeff then spent several years living and working in Perth before relocating to the Pilbara for a career and lifestyle change.
Fast forward seventeen years he’s is now a boilermaker at Fortescue Metals Group and owns his own home where he enjoys quality time with his partner and five children.
Returning to where it all began
Today Jeff also works for part time at the Clontarf Football Academy, supporting projects based on mental and physical health.
“I feel like I found lots of opportunities at Clontarf and I’ve made the most of them. I’m pretty lucky to be able to give back to this community. We help each other where and when we need it.”
Jeff remains passionate about sharing and educating others about Indigenous culture through open and honest two-way conversation.
“I feel this is the best way to change things for the better,” he said.
Working together to make a difference
The Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, self-esteem, life skills and employment prospects for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.
Our association with the Clontarf Foundation is all about helping it make a positive impact in the local community.
Jeff’s story is just one of many demonstrating how strong relationships between Clontarf, Kleenheat and other WesCEF businesses are making a difference.
As WA born and bred company, Kleenheat’s proud to support local households, businesses and community organisations while offering a diverse and inclusive environment for its people.