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Coates and Clontarf build bridges for a brighter future

Coates and Clontarf build bridges for a brighter future

Since its inception, Coates has consistently shown a dedication to fostering positive change within communities – a commitment particularly evident in the company’s collaboration with the Clontarf Foundation (Clontarf), a not-for-profit organisation devoted to enhancing the education and life prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men.

Established 24 years ago in Perth with just 25 boys, Clontarf has grown significantly, now engaging more than 11,500 students across Australia.

According to Adam Spink, national partnerships manager at Coates, Clontarf stands as a truly transformative program, offering education, mentoring and support that can profoundly impact the lives of young men.

“There’s a flow-on effect for their families and communities too, so it aligns with the Coates value of ‘care deeply’ and with what we want to achieve in our reconciliation journey,” says Spink.

Coates first partnered with Clontarf in 2020 as part of its first ‘Reflect’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), pledging to foster respectful relationships and create meaningful opportunities with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and employees. Following the successful three-year partnership and the launch of Coates’ ‘Innovate’ RAP in 2022, the company has renewed its partnership with Clontarf for another three years.

Key highlights of the partnership to date include:

  • Employment of 13 Clontarf graduates at Coates.
  • Over 1,000 Clontarf students participating in work experience/career days at Coates’ work sites nationwide.
  • Coates attending 77 Clontarf employment forums, showcasing various career pathways available at Coates.
  • Coates staff participating in over 200 Clontarf activities, including carnivals, morning trainings and awards nights.

“When our RAP Committee first assessed the opportunity to partner with the Clontarf Foundation, we recognised it was a partnership with clear synergies,” says Spink. “We were impressed by Clontarf’s success in supporting young Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island men to finish school, transition into employment and reach their full potential.”

“The committee was also excited by the opportunities to open doors for employee engagement and increase cultural awareness within our own organisation.”

Clontarf Foundation founder and CEO Gerard Neesham echoed Adam’s enthusiasm for the partnership.

“The partnership between the Clontarf Foundation and Coates has been an incredible success from the outset,” says Neesham. “The engagement between our academies and Coates staff on the ground has been second to none.”

“It is through these interactions that the young Clontarf men improve their confidence, grow their work-ready skills and ultimately find work with an employer that is committed to developing them further.”

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The partnership actively supports 150 Clontarf academies across Australia, with Coates offering work experience placements, workshops, training and apprenticeships to Clontarf participants, ensuring a holistic learning experience.

“Many students have visited our branches to get insights into Coates and then engaged in work experience with us,” says Spink. “Our teams have also participated in training sessions at various Clontarf academies, sporting carnivals and end-of-year awards nights.”

The positive outcomes of this partnership resonate far and wide. Many Clontarf attendees, inspired by their experiences, share their stories in their communities, organically expanding the reach of the program.

“It’s a great way to introduce our staff to the positive aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities who may not have had much experience in those environments,” says Spink.

Coates shares its ambition to support and empower young Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island men with customers that are also Clontarf corporate partners. “It’s great to see organisations that share our values to create meaningful change in our communities,” says Spink.

In a notable example of joint commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, Coates collaborated with BMD, Bunnings and the Clontarf Foundation to upgrade the Yarning Circle at Cecil Andrews College in Perth. Coates provided equipment for the project, with Clontarf Academy students, staff and volunteers from all three companies working together to create a safe space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and the entire school community to exchange stories and experiences.

For Coates, the partnership with Clontarf remains a vital part of their commitment to developing respectful relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and collaborating to create meaningful and sustainable opportunities.

As both organisations continue their work, they pave the way for a more inclusive and promising future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.

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