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Aboriginal Power Cup setting high targets

PORT ADELAIDE’s Aboriginal Power Cup program is targeting a 100% completion rate for its year 12 participants in 2018, to build on its best year 12 attainment rate yet last year.

Figures released recently revealed that of the 128 year 12s who took part in the program, 123 completed their year 12 studies – that’s a 96% attainment rate.

“If you look at the latest Closing the Gap report, South Australia had the highest increase in Year 12 attainment nationally and we think it can be attributed to the success of the Aboriginal Power Cup program,” said Port Adelaide’s Head of Aboriginal Programs, Paul Vandenbergh.

“Obviously this is a partnership with the South Australian Aboriginal Sports Training Academy (SAASTA), but it’s pretty pleasing and we’re looking for even better numbers in 2018.

“We started off getting a 52% completion rate so it’s been a huge jump.”

In the 2006 Census, just 32% of Aboriginal people reported having completed year 12, while that number increased to 47% in the 2016 Census.

The Aboriginal Power Cup is Port Adelaide’s flagship Aboriginal community program, which focusses on engaging young people in Aboriginal culture and education and promotes healthy lifestyle choices, teamwork, leadership and life skills and all with a competitive football carnival as its centrepiece.

It is all about encouraging academic participation, healthy lifestyles and cultural pride.

The program is facilitated through the SAASTA academies and also includes Warriappendi School and Immanuel College. 

The grand finals of the Aboriginal Power Cup are played as a curtain-raiser to a Port Adelaide game at Adelaide Oval.

To reach the final, teams must meet the 80% minimum school attendance requirement, and rank highly in both the academic and football components of the program.


In 2018, the program has entered its eleventh year with 140 Year 12 students enrolled.

It is the longest-running joint football and education community program for Aboriginal students in the Australian professional sports industry.

“The goals sort of shift every couple of years,” said Vandenbergh.

“It started with being an engagement or re-engagement strategy, then it went to a retention program to keep them engaged and we started tweaking the program to provide more experiences, and then it became a completion strategy to get year 12 completion to bigger numbers.

“Now it’s about the transition, so we’ve set up Powerful Futures to get the kids employed or doing further study.

“It still has evidence of an engagement strategy, a retention strategy and a completion strategy but we have evidence that says if we can get young people into TAFE, into Universities or into employment then there is no gap.”

Vandenbergh said much of the work is done before Year 12 with students from Years 10 and 11 also involved.

He said while 428 students participated in 2017, the number had risen to around 550 in 2018, with 64 schools involved and more wanting to come on board.

“We had to do a fair bit of work in years 10 and 11 because what we were finding in an Aboriginal sense was the attendance and completion rates compared to non-Aboriginal people was on par until year nine and then it started to drop away,” he said.

“We’ve had to encourage the kids to see through years 10 to 12 because it will open more doors to them in the future, and now we’re starting to see the results.”

The final of the Aboriginal Power Cup will be held as a curtain raiser to Port Adelaide’s Round 12 AFL game against Richmond at Adelaide Oval on Friday June 8.

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