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The NSW Rugby League is proud to announce an expansion of its Deadly Blues campaign to help improve the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across the state in 2020, with a healthy cooking and eating program to complement the ongoing health checks preventative care initiative.

The NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden and Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues Coach Brad Fittler joined with Deadly Choices ambassadors Preston Campbell and Steve Renouf today (via Zoom) to launch the second phase of the Deadly Blues program, through the Good Quick Tukka Cookbook, supported by current and former NSW Blues players.

The NSWRL is in the second year of a three-year partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH) Deadly Choices program which aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families – to stop smoking, to eat good food and exercise daily. The program is backed by the Australian Government with a commitment of $1.2 million over three years.

In the Deadly Blues campaign’s first year in 2019, 5000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples took the important step of attending any of the participating Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services in NSW and the ACT for a full health assessment and to receive preventative health messages. Everyone who undertook a health check received a free NSWRL-inspired Deadly Blues shirt. 

The 2020 Deadly Blues campaign will begin this month in the lead-up to the State of Origin series in November with current and former NSW Blues players helping to deliver the message for Indigenous communities throughout Australia to take control of their health. 

It will include a Good Quick Tukka cook-off competition between Blues and Maroons ambassadors, as well as an opportunity to be part of a community cook-off, where lucky winners will have the opportunity to measure up their skills in the kitchen, against their favourite Deadly Blues Ambassadors.

Trodden said the Deadly Blues partnership has the ability to deliver tangible benefits by aiming to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

“If the NSWRL can use the power of our brand as a tool to help promote a positive outcome for the Indigenous community in contributing to ‘close the gap’ in Indigenous Health outcomes in any way then that can only be a great thing,” Trodden said.

“The game would not be as strong without involvement from the Indigenous community and we are grateful for the support and commitment.”

Fittler said State of Origin provides the perfect platform and opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the valued contributions of Indigenous players and fans as part of the ‘Deadly Blues’ health campaign, while also using the game’s profile as a vehicle for change.

“I strongly believe in the valuable contribution that our game and players can make in the broader community and the Deadly Blues campaign is a perfect example of the role we can play to help to champion equity of health and opportunity for all Australians,” Fittler said.

IUIH Chief Executive Adrian Carson said the NSWRL’s continued commitment to community through the federally-funded Deadly Blues health initiative will make an indelible mark where it is needed most. 

“The Deadly Blues campaign will further strengthen delivery of our Deadly Choices messages which aim to empower our people to take control of their health – to stop smoking, to eat healthier and exercise more,” Carson said.

“Football is so much more than a game – it is a vehicle to drive important health messages for our people and to encourage families to access their local Community Controlled Health Services for support to make deadly choices, including completing a regular Health Check. 

“Through Deadly Choices, we’re making a real difference in closing the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and with the support and commitment of the NSWRL, along with the New South Wales and Australian Governments, momentum will be enhanced over coming years.”

The Institute will deliver the campaign in partnership with local community controlled health services in NSW. Maari Ma Health Service in Far West NSW, the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service (WACHS) in Central West and Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service (GWAHS) Sydney, and Bulgarr Ngaru in the Clarence Valley are all taking part in the Deadly Blues campaign.