Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Panthers score more help for mentor program

Panthers on the Prowl has received $150,000 from the Australian Government to continue its successful support program for families in the Penrith area for a further 12 months.

Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and Member for Lindsay, David Bradbury, made the announcement during a visit to the CUA stadium today.

Ms Macklin said Panthers on the Prowl was an excellent example of how community cooperation could tackle social challenges through the Government’s Local Answers initiative.

“This is a great example of how a sporting club can present a positive image of players and use them effectively as community ambassadors,” Ms Macklin said.

“Their involvement in the mentoring program has clearly made a difference with children who are at risk of dropping out of school due to behaviour issues, attendance problems or poor performance.”

Panthers on the Prowl has been funded since 2005. The program includes classroom activity, healthy lifestyles, family skills and teacher’s aide/mentor components.

Mr Bradbury said up to 120 parents have been supported through the family skills and healthy lifestyles programs implemented in 10 schools.

“Around 500 children have been part of breakfast clubs in 12 schools. And up to 1200 children received healthy living and active lifestyles guidance in six primary schools,” Mr Bradbury said.

“This includes fitness activities run by the Panthers players.”

About 30 children at risk have been linked to Panthers player mentors, who act as approved aides and are an extra resource to classroom teachers.

In the classroom children are developing a range of skills from technology through to communication and problem-solving. The program has been particularly good at engaging children who are lacking interest in school and learning.

“There is no doubt that Panthers on the Prowl is gold and the Penrith community will certainly benefit from this additional funding,” Mr Bradbury said.