Western Bulldogs football stars will be mentoring young African-Australians as the club steps up its support of youth in the west.
The mentoring program, developed by the Bulldogs’ Community Foundation, will match players including Jason Johannisen, Reuben William and Ellie Blackburn with African-Australian youth aged 14 to 18 to help them become role models for their peers.
The program will be supported by a grant under an $8.6 million funding boost from the state government in response to the 10-year African Communities Action Plan.
The plan was developed by African communities in partnership with the government.
The funding boost was announced in Footscray on Friday at the launch of the Western Bulldogs program.
Western Bulldogs Community Foundation general manager Kashif Bouns said as well as matching young people with mentors, the program will also include a number of leadership workshops.
“It will allow us to take our work forward and help us create future role models that can inspire our next generations through our African mentoring program,” he said.
“We are lucky to have role models like Jason Johannisen and Reuben William at our club who have already done some work in this area.”
Mr Bouns said Blackburn would also be instrumental in developing the program, because of her experience with Ladder, an AFL-linked not-for-profit organisation helping young people break the cycle of homelessness.
Multicultural affairs minister Robin Scott said the $8.6 million funding would include $1.5 million to improve education through homework clubs and school-community liaison officers, $1 million to support more people into jobs and $500,000 to respond to drug and alcohol abuse.
“Labor is supporting and empowering Victorians of African heritage, and are proud to work in partnership with communities to implement the action plan,” he said.
“The funding will go a long way to implementing many of the priorities of the action plan.”