The National Rugby League in partnership with the Federal Government will give 150 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students the opportunity to improve their career prospects with the announcement today of two innovative new education and employment programs – the Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit and the Learn. Earn. Legend! State of Origin Job Experience.

Both programs are being developed and implemented with the support of the Federal Government’s Learn. Earn. Legend! campaign, which encourages young Indigenous Australians to stay in school and aspire to success in the workplace, as well as helping them make the transition from education to employment.

The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit will next month provide 120 Indigenous high school students with the experience of a lifetime when they travel from as far as Elcho Island in the Northern Territory and Derby in Western Australia to the Gold Coast for three days as part of the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars celebrations.

From February 10-12, Youth Summit attendees will take part in education, employment and personal development workshops and meet some of the biggest names in Rugby League at activities with both the Indigenous All Stars and the NRL All Stars before joining the sell-out crowd at Skilled Park to watch the All Stars match.

“The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit and Learn. Earn. Legend! State of Origin Job Experience are exciting additions to Rugby League’s Indigenous programs,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“These initiatives are just two of the many ways in which Rugby League is working to improve the opportunities available to Australia’s Indigenous peoples and they reinforce our genuine commitment to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

“The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit will bring together Indigenous students from all over Australia to learn about the education and employment options available to themselves and others in their community, and to also embrace their heritage and culture in a week that is all about celebrating diversity.

“Later in the year, the Learn. Earn. Legend! State of Origin Job Experience will provide another group of students with an opportunity to get some hands-on work experience with some of Rugby League’s stakeholders in the lead up to the Sydney Origin match.”

Minister for Indigenous Employment and Economic Development and Minister for Sport, Mark Arbib, said: “The students participating in the Learn. Earn. Legend! Youth Summit have shown outstanding leadership in their community and a desire to learn more about their Indigenous heritage and culture.”

“This is a fantastic opportunity for them to be inspired by some of the country’s best educators and sportspeople and to then share the importance of staying in school and finishing their education with other young people in their communities.”

The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit will be delivered by the Smarter Stronger Institute, with Executive Director Dr Chris Sarra taking students through a variety of workshops aimed at teaching personal leadership skills, important lessons about their culture and identity as well as how to reach their goals.

“The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit is the chance for 120 Indigenous youth to come together with other likeminded young Indigenous leaders and work out how to play and win in the game of life,” Dr Sarra said.

“It is our aim that participants at the Summit can establish some life goals and directions and then go about chasing their dreams with a clear and committed personal understanding of what it means to be a well-grounded and honourable Indigenous leader.”

Youth Summit participants will also join the Indigenous and NRL All Stars teams for a special event at White Water World and attend the Bumehla Festival - a free public Festival at Broadwater Parklands from February 11-12 that will feature some of Australia’s most talented Indigenous performers including singer/songwriter Dan Sultan, the Bangarra Dance Theatre, hip hop performer Brothablack and pop duo Microwave Jenny, culminating in a live telecast of the game on a giant screen on the Saturday night.

In another exciting initiative for Indigenous youth, the NRL and the Federal Government have also come together to deliver the Learn. Earn. Legend! State of Origin Job Experience, a program that will offer employment and training opportunities to 30 Indigenous youth and school leavers in the lead up to the Sydney State of Origin game.

“From 12 to 16 June, 30 young Indigenous people will travel to Sydney to participate in work experience, leadership and mentoring activities with Rugby League State of Origin sponsor organisations,” Senator Arbib said.

“Those students selected will have shown that they have adopted the spirit of Learn. Earn. Legend! – regularly attending school and setting a good example for their peers.

“Their work experience will take place during the State of Origin series and as a reward the students will have the chance to have dinner with the players and go to an Origin game and see their heroes in action.”

High school students and recent school leavers from Batemans Bay, Condobolin, Wilcannia, Walgett and Moree – the regional NSW towns involved in the Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Regional Tour – will be eligible to apply for the program, with registration details to be announced in March.

Once the registration process is complete, a judging panel will select the final 30 candidates.

“The Learn. Earn. Legend! All Stars Youth Summit and the Learn. Earn. Legend! State of Origin Job Experience are amazing opportunities for these Indigenous students,” Learn. Earn. Legend! Ambassador, Scott Prince, said.

“They’ll get to meet other students who, like themselves, want to improve their education and employment future and also enjoy some of the most exciting games on the Rugby League calendar in the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars and the State of Origin.

“I’m looking forward to meeting them and sharing my own experiences of growing up as an Indigenous Australian.”