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The Southern Cross : February 2012
February 2012 Page 25 www.thesoutherncross.org.au The Southern Cross He's the first to admit he can have a hard head. But it is his persistence that has given many young Indigenous men a second chance at life-changing education in Adelaide. "I am really passionate about our country," says Gerry McCarthy, 57. "And if you are going to be passionate about this country and its people, then you have to be passionate about our country's first people." For the past four years, Gerry has headed up the Indigenous Sporting (chance) Academy at Rostrevor College (RISA) -- well known for its success in helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys complete their secondary education. Gerry last month began a new posting in Darwin, working as a senior educational consultant for Indigenous Catholic Community Schools with the Catholic Education Office (Northern Territory). RISA will now come under the banner of the College's Equity Services department headed by Cherrell Murray. Equity Council member Scott Whitters, who has developed the school's Environmental Education Program, will help manage Indigenous education. Gerry says his legacy in Adelaide is a 100 per cent retention rate last year among the Rostrevor Indigenous Sporting Academy's 37 students and one of the highest numbers of Indigenous students to have completed SACE at the Christian Brother's all-boys school at Woodforde -- 19 in total. Several of these graduates are awaiting university placements in law, teaching and engineering. Year 12 graduate last year, Joshua Simpson, has been awarded an Australian Institute of Sport Scholarship (AFL traineeship), while old scholars Joshua Cubillo is a teacher at Christian Brothers College in the city and Mathew Fletcher is completing a degree in Business and Accounting at the University of South Australia. But the one Gerry remembers most is a Year 11 student who failed to return to Rostrevor College after semester break in 2010. He had fallen into bad habits back on 'the Lands' and was refusing to return Gerry's calls. Gerry persisted, calling and texting the boy every day for two weeks and finally driving 300km north to Port Augusta to bring him back to school. The student graduated from Rostrevor last year and will commence a TAFE course in 2012. "That makes it all worth it," says Gerry. Gerry graduated from CBC, Adelaide, before entering teachers college for several months and deciding his vocation was among the brothers themselves. He taught as a brother at Aquinas College in Western Australia and St Paul's College in Gilles Plains and in the early 1980s left to become a lay teacher. Gerry says his interest in indigenous education began after assisting and visiting a family from Arnhem Land (one of the five regions of the Northern Territory) enrolled at St Joseph's Memorial School Norwood, where he was principal from 1992 to 2000. "That was the catalyst." GOODBYE: (clockwise) Eddie Smallwood, Tydon Scrutton-Turner, Michael Coombes and Zeldon Fielding with mentor Gerry McCarthy. Gerry heads North YOUR CHURCH. YOUR INSURANCE. Caring for you and your property For more than 100 years, Catholic Church Insurances has been caring for the insurance needs of our church communities with trust and integrity. We care about people, not just property. Why Catholic Church Insurances? # When you purchase both home and contents you are eligible for a 10% discount* When the unthinkable happens our claims staff are trained to take you through the claims process in a calm and compassionate manner. For a competitive quote call 1300 655 003 catholicinsurances.com.au # transaction fees may apply. † Publication policies. 30 DAYS FREE COVER† If you purchase before call us on 1300 655 003 and mention the code word Publication' †Conditions apply. news |