Cape York Leaders Program alumni, Keithean Bowen continues to search for the best version of himself and others.
The phrase ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none’ likely conjures up thoughts of someone who lacks specialist skills and knowledge. But the full phrase – ‘a jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one’ – was a compliment. One very fitting of Keithean Bowen.
Hope Vale born and bred, Keithean, 29, is a man of many talents. The proud Bulgan and Dhuppi Warra man and father of two sons is striving to break down barriers for his hometown. As a teenager in 2005, he was one of the very first students to be given a secondary scholarship to a prestigious boarding school through Cape York Leaders Program (CYLP). The program has now grown to provide more than 100 secondary and 15 tertiary scholarships to the youth of Cape York every year.
Keithean Bowen with fellow CYLP alumni Trinity Clarke, Shobi Salam, Sinjon Gavin and Aaliyah Mueller.
Keithean started his journey attending The Cathedral School in Townsville and completed his formal education in 2010. He had a gap year after school but those who know Keithean, know he has a contagious drive and isn’t one to sit back and watch a year go by. So he decided to entertain his boredom with some labouring. This only fuelled his work ethic and doors to a bright future started to open. Before long, Keithean was offered an apprenticeship and is now a qualified boiler maker by trade. Keithean had a desire to work for himself and later established his very own business, Bowen’s Boilers.
But he didn’t stop there. Since his boiler making days, Keithean has also held various roles in Apunipima, from a disengaged youth worker, AOD support worker and men’s support worker. This led him to his current position as a behaviour teacher at Hope Vale State School. The move to Support Worker and Behaviour Management has certainly given him clarity and confirmation that he wants to work in a space that empowers his mob.
I take them to the beach or out fishing and by the end of the day young enemies become friends. I don’t tell them what to do, I just give them the tools to clear their minds and respect each other’s views.”
Ever the entrepreneur, Keithean has continued to step outside his comfort zone with side hustles, including a successful apparel business, Hunting the Homelands. What started off as fishing shirts, now incorporates showcasing his hunting skills to the online world through social media including his YouTube channel. Hunting the Homelands has built a solid fan base of local supporters. This has sparked similar pages from other remote communities, which Keithean loves seeing. He also uses his love of fishing and hunting to help any youth in Hope Vale who find themselves in disagreements. “I take them to the beach or out fishing and by the end of the day young enemies become friends,” he says. “I don’t tell them what to do, I just give them the tools to clear their minds and respect each other’s views.”
These leadership qualities, fostered right back from his days with Cape York Leaders Program, has led to Keithean becoming the second youngest ever to be appointed a Hope Vale Council Representative. Appointed back in 2020 to advocate and strengthen his community of Hope Vale, he received one of the highest votes in history, which speaks for how he is perceived, respected and viewed upon as a role model to his people. He also works in the community wellbeing team through his Council position, which is fitting for the passion and love he has for Hope Vale.
On top of all this, the versatile man is also a volunteer firefighter, SES member, videographer and local barber.
I’m passionate about empowering my people. When people ask me in local government meetings why I want to be a leader, I tell them ‘I’m not here to be a leader, I’m here to create leaders.’ Nothing gives me more pride than to be in a position where young one’s look at me and think to themselves, ‘if he can do that, I can’. All my achievements aren’t for myself, they’re for our younger generations.”
Some may see a person with this many roles as being fickle and lacking focus, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Keithean is simply building the skills he sees as essential for lifting his community.
“I’m passionate about empowering my people,” Keithean says. “When people ask me in local government meetings why I want to be a leader, I tell them ‘I’m not here to be a leader, I’m here to create leaders.’ Nothing gives me more pride than to be in a position where young one’s look at me and think to themselves, ‘if he can do that, I can’. All my achievements aren’t for myself, they’re for our younger generations.”
Now he dreams of adding guidance counsellor to his impressive skillset, his ultimate career goal, where he can help direct youth to become the best versions of themselves.