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Hugh Jackman returns to Perth stomping ground

Jackman launched the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts in Perth on Saturday in a joint effort with his actress wife Deborra-Lee Furness to ensure the performing arts continue to thrive in Australia.

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In the early 1990s Hugh Jackman passed up a role in Neighbours in order to hone his craft studying at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

It is that same value for education that inspired him and his actress wife to launch a multimillion-dollar project to give back to the industry he loves.

Jackman launched the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Performing Arts in Perth on Saturday in a joint effort with his actress wife Deborra-Lee Furness to ensure the discipline continues to thrive in Australia.

Launch of the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Western Australian Performing Arts Acadamy (WAAPA) Click for more photos

Hugh Jackman Returns To Old Stomping Ground At WAAPA

Launch of the Jackman Furness Foundation for the Western Australian Performing Arts Acadamy (WAAPA) Photo: Courtney McAllister

Two decades ago he was just like any of the other students walking the grounds of Edith Cowan University, the home of WAAPA; today a red carpet was rolled out to welcome him back.

The event was held at WAAPA, where Jackman refined his acting skills in the 1990s and which will be the first recipient of funding from the new foundation.

The academy, the starting point for many Australian performers, will receive funding to expand it to existing visiting artists program and international internships.

Jackman said he never could have imagined this day back when he was a student at WAAPA.

He described the decision to take the place at WAAPA over the role on Neighbours as a "dilemma".

Jackman said it was his father's value for education that convinced him to go to WAAPA rather than take the television role.

He said he could say "with an absolute certainty" that his career wouldn't be what it was today without WAAPA.

Jackman has not been the only very successful WAAPA student. The graduate list includes Lisa McCune, Lucy Durack and William McInness.

He said although government funding for education was valuable in any society “it’s impossible in a modern sense to rely completely on a government for anything, as we’re finding out”.

Other Australian performance-based institutions could benefit from the Jackman Furness Foundation, with the X-Men star mentioning indigenous based programs, internships for resident teachers and scholarships for students as ideas that were being worked on.

There is also expected to be a future announcement about hands-on opportunities for students through a partnership with Seven West Media.

JFFPA aims to fundraise $10 million in its first four years, handing out investment income to beneficiaries each year.

The Jackmans have committed $1million to kick off the foundation, which has been matched by another $1 million donation.

The celebrity couple also have Australian acting legend Jack Thompson on board as a founding patron.

He described it as a "great honour" to be asked to be part of the foundation.

Thompson said although there were no performing arts academies when he started out they played an important role today, saying "it's art that defines a culture and people like Jackman are our representatives".

Those at the launch were treated to a performance by Jackman, who has been in Australia as part of promotional duties leading up to the releases of the latest X-Men movie, in which he returns as Wolverine.

He sang I Still call Australia Home accompanied by WAAPA students.

Vice-chancellor of Edith Cowan University Professor Kerry Cox said he was delighted that Jackman had returned to ECU 20 years after his graduation to "give back".

"This new foundation for the performing arts is yet another example of the deep commitment Mr Jackman has to his roots," he said.

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