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NSWRL encourages clubs to celebrate Indigenous Round

The NSWRL is encouraging all clubs and members to embrace Indigenous Round starting tomorrow and running until the end of Round 12 on Sunday 29 May by acknowledging the long and proud history between Rugby League and First Nations people.

Indigenous Round coincides with National Reconciliation Week (NRW), which is held between 27 May and 3 June every year to commemorate two significant milestones in the reconciliation journey; the successful 1967 referendum and the Mabo High Court decision.

“Indigenous Round provides the NSWRL with an opportunity to recognise the contribution of the Indigenous community to the greatest game of all,” NSWRL Acting Chairman John Anderson said.

“Since the inception of Rugby League in 1908, some of the greatest players to lace up a boot have come from an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background.

“Through all levels of the game, from the Koori Knockout to the Ampol State of Origin series, we have seen tremendous impact and involvement from our First Nations people and I am confident that relationship will continue to flourish.”

Clubs can help celebrate Indigenous Round by:

- an Acknowledgment to Country before the main game;

- a Welcome to Country involving local elders or Aboriginal Land Council before the main game;

- a Smoking Ceremony involving local elders before the main game;

- a moment of silence for the Stolen Generation before the main game;

- having traditional dancers before the main game;

- an Acknowledgment to Country in the program;

- referencing the name of the traditional country you are on in the Acknowledgment to Country;

- inviting local Land Council and Elders to the game.

The NSWRL is involved with a number of partners and programs which have had a positive impact on Indigenous communities across the state.

Most recently, the NSWRL announced an extension of its Deadly Choices program for another year to assist Indigenous communities with healthier lifestyle choices; and has continued its journey towards reconciliation through broadening its ongoing partnership with the KARI Foundation.

The participation numbers from the Indigenous community involved in Rugby League around the state are also strong with a combined total of 26,197 for players, coaches, trainers or volunteers.

The programs and partners the NSWRL is involved in includes:

KARI Foundation – the KARI Foundation develops various programs relating to culture (connecting Aboriginal community and educating non-Aboriginal Australia about the Aboriginal community), education, employment and Aboriginal business enterprise, sport and healthy lifestyle, creative and performing arts, families and communities and sector leadership. The NSWRL has partnered with the KARI Foundation to work together to implement programs in relation to these areas.

Deadly Choices campaign – a program backed by Federal Government funding which empowers 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. Deadly Choices, in partnership with the NSWRL, also encourages Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to access their local Community Controlled Health Service and complete an annual health check with every participant receiving a Deadly Blues shirt.

Clontarf Partnership – the Clontarf Foundation exists to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and by doing so equips them to participate more meaningfully in society. The NSWRL works with Clontarf across their many programs including their Rugby League days held annually across NSW.

KARI Foundation Talented Aboriginal Athlete Program (TAAP) – a camp designed to expose young male and female Indigenous Rugby League players to NSWRL High Performance programs. Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler has helped conduct clinics at the three-day long camp which also provides information on NRL careers or school-based apprenticeships or traineeships.

NSW Under 16s Koori vs Queensland Under 16s Murri – a team is chosen from the TAAP program to play a match against a Queensland Under 16s Murri team with the winner taking the Steve “Bear” Hall Shield named after the late, long-serving Indigenous Development Officer responsible for many of the Indigenous initiatives at the NSWRL.

PCYC Nations of Origin – the NSWRL facilitates the Rugby League side of the annual tournament with teams representing the different traditional local Aboriginal nations across NSW which participate in a round robin tournament during the State of Origin period.

Indigenous Referees camp – the NSWRL facilitates the training and development of 30 referees for the PCYC Nations of Origin with the hope they will return to their communities to continue refereeing in their local districts.

Ricky Walford Shield – the NSWRL, in partnership with Walgett Primary School, helps facilitate this tournament for Primary School children across Western NSW to honour legendary St George winger Ricky Walford as well as supplying prizes and player of the match awards.

Ronny Gibbs 7s – the NSWRL, in partnership with former Rugby League hardman Ronny Gibbs, helps facilitate this tournament for High School children across western NSW as well as supplying prizes and player of the match awards. This year will be the 25th running of the event.

Reconciliation Action Plan – the NSWRL is currently finalising a Reconciliation Action Plan. A RAP enables organisations to sustainably and strategically take meaningful action to advance reconciliation.

Acknowledgement of Country

New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.