Port Adelaide Aboriginal Programs Director Paul Vandenbergh will finish at the club at the end of the year.
Mr Vandenbergh, who started at Alberton in 2010, has overseen the club’s industry-leading Indigenous programs for more than ten years creating life-changing experiences for Aboriginal youth across South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Mr Vandenbergh’s list of program and personal achievements include:
- Growing the Aboriginal Power Cup program from 10 participating schools to more than 75 schools across South Australia in the last decade, making it the flagship Indigenous school retention program in the country
- The introduction of the Willpower Program for Primary School aged Aboriginal youth in South Australia and the Northern Territory
- The delivery of Cultural Awareness sessions to key stakeholders
- The development and introduction of the club’s first Reconciliation Action Plan
- The introduction of the AFL’s first Aboriginal AFL Academies for both boys and girls
- The first Aboriginal to be appointed to the senior executive of an AFL club
Port Adelaide chief executive Matthew Richardson says Mr Vandenbergh will leave behind an extraordinary legacy.
“In his time here at Port Adelaide, Pauly has taught us all so much about Indigenous culture and his people,” said Mr Richardson.
“The connection Pauly has with not only Aboriginal youth within his programs, but also with our players and a generation of Indigenous talent at Port Adelaide, is very powerful.
“Pauly’s great strength is that he can inspire and connect people at every level. He has always maintained that Aboriginal culture and history belongs to all Australians. His message is always about connection, unity and reconciliation - we all are together as “One people”.
“People like Pauly don’t come along very often and the impact he has had on our club will live on through the legacy of the programs that continue to evolve. Through his efforts the lives of so many young Aboriginal people have been transformed and the power of that cannot be underestimated.
“Pauly will leave Port Adelaide as one of the most respected Indigenous leaders in Australian sport.”
Mr Vandenbergh thanked Port Adelaide for providing him a platform to live his dream.
“I am so grateful to Port Adelaide for giving me the opportunity to do what I love – bringing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people together as one,” Mr Vandenbergh said.
“It was always going to be a great journey for me. This club has community in its DNA and Aboriginal culture in its heart. It was always there. The leaders of this club just gave me the opportunity to grow this passion through our Aboriginal community programs.
“I’ve shared a wonderful journey with the club and have always received so much support from the Board, players, past players, staff, volunteers and corporate partners. I thank each and every one of you for the amazing support of our programs across the last ten years.
“And every step of the way I was inspired by the outcomes we were achieving. I got so much joy out of seeing the lives of young Aboriginal people change as a direct result of our programs. I look forward to these programs continuing and prospering for years to come.
“I’m unsure what is next for me from a professional perspective, although I look forward to staying involved in the club at some level to assist with their programs ongoing.”