Queensland Rugby League honours First Nations legacy

When you look at the stats it’s easy to see why Stage and Screen client, Queensland Rugby League (QRL), is passionate about supporting, championing and advocating for Australia’s First Nations people.

Queensland Rugby League honours First Nations legacy

Across Australia First Nations people account for 3.2% of the population and that rises to 4.6% in Queensland. However in the rugby league community, First Nations people make up 20% of players, 11% of coaches and 10% of trainers.

“There is a long history of First Nations people embracing our sport as talented players, coaches and fans,” said Gemma Davidson – QRL General Manager of People, Capability and Safety. “There is also a very strong regional base across Queensland and players, volunteers and fans don’t think twice about travelling four hours to attend a game.”

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So it’s not surprising that NAIDOC Week is proudly celebrated across the QRL community. “The week kicked off with the Indigenous Round which was celebrated state-wide across over 400 city and regional clubs,” said Gemma. “These important games were an opportunity for us all to stand shoulder to shoulder with First Nations players, volunteers, fans and communities to highlight their amazing contribution to the sport and to raise awareness around issues impacting these communities.”

Clubs throughout Queensland honoured the Indigenous Round in a range of special ways including community visits, special jerseys, acknowledgement of country ceremonies, traditional dances and craft activities. In Cairns, with the support of sponsor BMD, the QRL Indigenous Round was a large community event complete with a First Nations face painter for the kids. “There is such a big representation of First Nations people among players, fans and throughout rugby league’s volunteer base, so NAIDOC Week is an opportunity to celebrate this very significant contribution,” said Gemma.

Photos courtesy of QRL.

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Off the field the team at QRL Head Office, along with stakeholders and members of QRL’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, celebrated NAIDOC Week with an indigenous flavoured morning tea. Partnering with the owners of a local indigenous cafe, they sampled a range of delicious traditional ingredients and foods.

Beyond NAIDOC Week, QRL plays an ongoing role in supporting a number of important groups focused on the wellbeing of First Nations players and communities. These include Greg Inglis’ Goanna Academy, the first accredited and Indigenous-owned mental health education provider in Australia.

QRL recently partnered with the Goanna Academy, by curating an indigenous artwork which was converted into an exclusive Maroons indigenous training jersey auctioned to raise over $5K for their vital work. Another important partner is Deadly Choices, which empowers Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. While the KARI Foundation, which is committed to improving employment outcomes, is also another QRL partner.

Photos courtesy of QRL.

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The QRL is extremely proud to have a permanent Indigenous Advisory Committee, with members from a range of different backgrounds, that advise and educate the league on all issues in the First Nations space. To strengthen QRL’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion, the organisation also recently created a totally new position – appointing a Social Impact and Inclusion Coordinator seven months ago.

Football, family, community and First Nations culture are all inextricably linked and the sport provides so many positive opportunities for communities to come together and support each other. “At all levels of rugby league, First Nations people have contributed to a powerful legacy and inspired Queenslanders for generations,” said Gemma. “From the greats of the game, like Artie Beetson, to the dedicated volunteers at the smallest of regional clubs, QRL’s long running relationships with these indigenous communities have helped to shape the game in Queensland and will no doubt continue forever.”

Photos courtesy of QRL.

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