Rugby legend Glen Ella to mentor indigenous Narooma students

Narooma High School indigenous students will soon have new mentors to guide them through the academic process, helping them toward rewarding careers and futures.

Former Australian rugby union legend Glen Ella met with Year 11 and 12 students at Narooma High School on Wednesday as part of the Learn Earn Legend careers and education pathways program.

Learn Earn Legend is a program established by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) and is part of the Government’s Indigenous Advancement Strategy.

Ellavation, a career and education foundation established by the famous rugby union Ella brothers, Glen, Mark and Gary, together with their sister Marcia Ella-Duncan, a former Australian netball representative, has been contracted by PMC to deliver the program to the South Coast region.

Glen Ella is Ellavation CEO, and together with fellow Wallabies legend Jim Williams, will be managing the program at Narooma, Moruya, Batemans Bay and Ulladulla high schools.

The Ella family origins are from the South Coast and family members regularly head to the region to visit relatives. Glen Ella said he grew up camping at Mummaga Lake and other spots around Narooma. He still has a sister and brother living in Narooma and two sisters at Dalmeny. 

Learn Earn Legend was designed to promote school attendance, produce educational outcomes and transition Indigenous school leavers into employment, further education or training courses, Mr Ella said.

“We are looking at reaching an initial target of 50 male and female Indigenous students to provide them with the framework and aspiration to further themselves with tertiary education or career opportunities,” he said. “We met with school leaders and teachers earlier this month and we are excited about the opportunities Learn Earn Legend can produce.”

Mr Williams said he would travel regularly to the South Coast schools over the next 12 months to provide hands-on leadership, guidance and mentoring.

“In addition, we will facilitate workshops, arrange personal mentors and establish and maintain corporate networks to help transition students into employment upon completion of Year 12,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Ella said the Learn Earn Legend program sought to provide positive and enduring social, health and community change within indigenous communities.

“Ellavation aims to provide life-changing career and career development opportunities for indigenous Australians and Learn Earn Legend fits perfectly with our vision,” he said. 

One of those students looking forward to the program is Year 12 student Harley Ladmore, who while not knowing sure is thinking he might like to become a chef or builder.

“I might be getting an apprenticeship at Club Narooma next year and I like the idea of being a chef, but my pop is a bricklayer so I might want to get into building,” Harley said. 

Glen Ella profile:

Ella is one of 12 children and was educated at Matraville High School in Sydney. Two of his brothers, twin brother Mark and younger brother Gary, all played Test rugby for the Wallabies, while his sister Marcia was the first indigenous Australian to represent Australia in netball.

Glen, together with Mark and Gary, were member of the famous 1977-78 Australian Schools rugby team which toured the UK and Ireland undefeated. In 1978, all three brothers were members of the Sydney Rugby Union premiership-winning Randwick team and carved out brilliant careers with Randwick, Sydney, NSW and Australia.

Glen made his Test debut for the Wallabies against Scotland in 1982 and played three more Tests in 1983 and 1985. Glen was assistant Wallaby coach during the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa before coaching the Australian Sevens team. He later returned as assistant Wallaby coach under Eddie Jones at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. Earlier this year, he was assistant coach to Jones with the England team which defeated Australia in both Tests.

Jim Williams profile:

Born in Young, Williams was a member of the 1999 Rugby World Cup-winning Wallabies team. He played rugby league as a boy before switching to rugby when joining the army when aged 17.

A bruising backrower, Williams represented the NSW Waratahs and ACT Brumbies and made his Test debut against Ireland in Brisbane in 1999 and went on to play 14 Tests in 1999-2000. Williams accepted a two-year playing deal with Munster in Ireland in 2001, and soon captained the Irish club and played until 2005 when he was appointed assistant coach. He continued in coaching roles at Munster until 2008 when new Wallabies coach Robbie Deans offered him the assistant coach role. Williams remain assist Wallabies coach until 2011.