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Written by Mark Falkenmire.

Eighteen months ago two of the Coonamble Clontarf Cockatoos chose to leave the nest. From the security and comfort of the Western NSW town the two fellas moved to the ‘Big Smoke’ in search of work. They have since established a career in Sydney, having just gained their Certificate III in Construction.

The boys were interviewed in relation to their involvement with Clontarf:

Stephen Thurston

Before Clontarf came to Coonamble I was not too worried about school at all, I was not interested. When Clontarf came nothing really changed, I took school for granted, I still used to wag class and so on.

We were in Year 11 and used to call in to the Clontarf room a bit, not too much. Lukey gave us a kick in the butt and said that if we did the right thing that Clontarf would help, he said that they would take us to Darwin for a holiday. I did not believe him, but started to go to class and to training. My classroom behaviour improved. We went to Darwin in Year 11 and to Alice Springs at the end of Year 12.

I didn’t think that I would have a job or move away from home, but the Clontarf staff played a big role in my life. They were 100% of the reason I got my job at Leighton Contractors. I still text or talk to the staff every two to three days, and one day I would like to work for Clontarf – to help fellas in other towns; it is a real life changer.

When I started work it was like I just ‘threw my money at the wall’. The Clontarf boys said to save your money and to put a deposit on a house or something. I did save, and I bought a Commodore Sedan. I am now saving to travel and see the world – I am going to Europe in December with my brother.

Casey Fields

I use to find school boring, I did not want to be there – my attendance was about three times a week. When Clontarf was first there at Coonamble, I thought nothing of it, it took a while to join. We thought it was just like previous similar programmes – that did not work.

The Clontarf staff said to come to training and we would get a trip to Darwin. I was scared at first, the thought of the first time leaving NSW – so it took a bit of convincing. Luke said that there was a time and a place for mucking around – in the Clontarf Room, not in class. My behaviour improved, and the teachers began ‘to love us’.

Clontarf pretty much saved my life, if it didn’t come along I’d be locked up or off my head somewhere. If it wasn’t for Luke I wouldn’t have my job, and I still talk to Adam once or twice a week.

In the future I would like to climb the ranks in the Construction Industry, or work for Clontarf. The best thing about Sydney is the shops, but the fellas made us open up savings accounts, and I am saving for a Lexus. I’d also like to travel overseas. I want to go to America, but I can’t leave work for too long – I’d miss it!

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