Rick Hanlon got half an hour’s notice that the Prime Minister was going to visit AFL Cape York House in Cairns.
A small 20 minute window in Malcolm Turnbull’s hectic schedule had opened up, and he was keen to see the boarding house he’d only heard about until that point.
“There’s not too many of them that have shook hands with a Prime Minister before,” Cape York House Program Manager Rick Hanlon said of the young Indigenous boys there.
But first, the PM’s security detail swept the area while Rick rallied the boys and some staff members.
Then, the Prime Minister arrived.
“A couple were a bit shocked. We had one young boy clapping as the Prime Minister was walking towards him,” Mr Hanlon said of the Sunday afternoon visit.
“He knew exactly who was coming. We had others who were unsure about the Prime Minister as well but it was a good experience for everyone.”
The residential facility is supported by the Australian Football League, but it isn’t an AFL talent academy. Rather, it’s a place that takes a wholistic approach to improving the lives of the young men there, according to Mr Hanlon.
“Our role is built around education, wellbeing and careers and transitioning into the workforce or tertiary education,” he told NITV.
It works in co-operation with six schools in the Cairns region to give the young men aged 11 to 17, a serious outlook on improving their education.
Now in its fourth year of operation, Mr Hanlon is proud of its track record.
“We’ve had 12 graduates in our first three years. We’ve got seven boys at university which we are absolutely very, very proud of,” Rick Hanlon said.
Although the visit was short, it was face-to-face time many organisations would envy.
“He [the Prime Minister] seemed to be quietly impressed with what we were doing,” he said.