AFL stars including former Western Bulldogs captain Brad Johnson, Dogs ruckman Jordan Roughead and Geelong players Mark Blicavs, Jed Bews and Lincoln McCarthy, have become ambassadors for the initiative, which helps to address the fact that on any given night more than 26,000 young people aged 12 to 25 are homeless in Australia.
Every cent raised by the sale of The Unite Project water – which will be stocked in cafes, restaurants and supermarkets – will go towards to Ladder, the official charity of AFL players which provides housing and support for young people at-risk or experiencing homelessness.
“Our youth are our future, and the work The Unite Project supports not only provides a safe and nurturing environment for at-risk-youth in our communities, but also provides them with the mentoring and support network they need to help them lead a healthy, successful life,” Hall-of-Famer Johnson said.
Bulldogs great Brad Johnson
“With approximately 70 per cent of homeless young people escaping home due to family violence, child abuse or family breakdown, it’s time we take a stand and break this vicious cycle.”
Roughead, who works mentoring young people at Ladder, applauded the initiative, which is a collaboration between the Cotton On Group, Emma and Tom’s, the AFL Players’ Association, Ladder and Fluid.
“Through my involvement with Ladder, I’ve worked with some great young people who have found themselves in situations they don’t want to be in,” Roughead said.
“Regardless of how or why they have ended up at risk of homelessness, they’ve all wanted to find a way to be positive members of their community, and this partnership between Ladder and The Unite Project will help them do that.”
Blicavs said he was appalled that there were so many homeless young people on the streets every night.
“Our role with the Unite Project is just to raise awareness to help raise funds by selling water to support the youth that needs our help,’’ Blicavs said.
“To support it, it’s as easy as buying the water. If you’re at a café and it’s not tstocked, see if they can stock the water. 100 per cent of the proceeds go towards the fight against youth homelessness.”
AFL players have a strong history of supporting at-risk youth with Ladder being founded by a group of AFL players in 2007.
Since then, each AFL player has contributed a portion of all match payments to the charity, donating more than $215,000 every year to Ladder.
“All AFL players take great pride in being able to help empower young at-risk Australians through their ongoing donations to Ladder, so it was a natural progression for the AFL Players’ Association to become involved in The Unite Project,” AFL Players’ Association CEO Paul Marsh said.
The Unite Project is already selling water in businesses in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia, with the aim of growing the initiative to have stockists in cities and towns right across the nation.
The Geelong Cats exclusively stock The Unite Project water at every event at Simonds Stadium.