Millions of dollars have been given to a program that supports indigenous children through school in the name of the late rugby league legend Artie Beetson. The scheme has been credited with keeping the children in school.
On Monday the federal government announced another $4.43 million for the program, Achieving Results Through Indigenous Education. The money will go towards funding the program for the next four years in 21 schools.
ARTIE is supported by members of Former Origin Greats – which runs the program – Mal Meninga and Wally Lewis who were on hand for the announcement at the Broncos League Club on Monday.
The School Education Minister, Peter Garrett, said a child's future happiness could be related directly to their time at school.
"The one direct connection between your health, your happiness and your standard of living is how long you stay at school," Mr Garrett said.
"It doesn't matter whether you go on to play footy, go on to a trade, go on to become a teacher, the amount of time you spend at school . . . absolutely makes a difference in your life . . . aside from what happens in the family, of course."
The program gives children incentives to stay at school and provides tutors in subjects such as maths and English.
"What this means is kids in schools are getting a chance to focus on what they need to have as the underlying fundamentals through their school life," Mr Garrett said.
"We're seeing increased school retention, good attendance and good engagement. Now it's a big challenge for us right around Australia but it's especially pleasing to see former Origin greats and the ARTIE program here in Queensland.
"Just think of its humble beginnings – very, very few schools involved in the early period and it continues to grow and continues to develop."
Gene Miles, the executive chairman of FOG, said past and present league players would have an important role in setting achievable goals for students.
"It's not all about kicking a footy around and doing drills and so forth. It's about school attendance, improving numeracy and literacy and our program is delivered by former school teachers," he said.
Mr Miles said Beetson was "passionate about his mob" and though the program had a rugby league focus, it was very popular with girls as well as boys.