Cowboys House and Ignatius Park

Our Education / Edmund Rice education Australia
Students from Ignatius Park were awarded for their commitment and leadership at the recent NRL Cowboys House Awards.

The NRL Cowboys sponsor a residential facility in Townsville which accommodates 90 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students. 15 study at Ignatius Park College.

NRL Cowboys House provides young Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students from various communities across the northern parts of Queensland and the Torres Strait with an opportunity to complete their secondary schooling at several schools in Townsville. The House has just completed its third full year of operation for boys (50 male students) and 2019 was the first year with girls (25 female students). 

The House is not designed to cater to aspiring Rugby League players. It is designed to offer greater holistic opportunities that students may not otherwise be exposed to and able to take advantage of in their home community. The North Queensland Cowboys Community Foundation is the main supporter of the Facility along with the Federal and State governments. 

Ignatius Park College is extremely proud to be a part of the NRL Cowboys House and has been a supporter since its inception in 2017. 

Currently there are 15 students from the House who complete their schooling at IPC. 

This facility lives the spirit of Blessed Edmund Rice providing opportunities for these young men from some marginalised communities to use education to open doors and possibilities for the future. The same vision that Edmund Rice had for the students in Waterford, Ireland. 

Cowboys House provides an environment where each student is valued and feel safe. They know each student as a learner and work collaboratively with the College to ensure that each student flourishes academically, socially and emotionally and continues being proud of their Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background and culture.  

According to Andrew Kirkpatrick, the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Program Leader at Ignatius Park:

“It is a challenging context for the boys to be in being so far from home and living in a unique environment, however, it is extremely pleasing to see the development of these young men since they make the move to Townsville. The journey of these students really is a collaborative one that relies on many different parties coming to the table. 

“Our goal is to work with the students, their families and the staff of the Cowboys House to mould the student into the best young man he can become and then be a positive contributor back to the community. At the same time, we want to ensure strong links to the background of the student is maintained whether through culture and/or family roots being recognised and appreciated.”

The annual NRL Cowboys House Awards evening provides an opportunity for the community and the schools involved in the program to recognise outstanding individual achievements of the students. 

This is positive recognition of the hard work and commitment many of these students have displayed in 2019. This year was significant for the facility with four students graduating for the first time since the inception of the House three years ago. 

Students from the IPC won the following awards: 

  • Junior Academic Award: George Abednego 
  • Most Consistent Study Award: Tekelu Mene 
  • Sportsman of the Year: Elijah Joe 
  • Community Services Award: Josiah Daniel 
  • Outstanding Leadership Award: Gary Tom, and
  • Most Outstanding Border of the Year: Haley Pearson 

2020 will be significant for IPC as the school will have its first Cowboys House student graduate.