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National Rugby League and Australian Rugby League policies relating to Indigenous initiatives within the Australian community

- In 2010, the NRL launched the All Stars concept as the centrepiece of Rugby League’s commitment to Indigenous Australia - an event that promotes harmony across all cultures whilst also celebrating the game’s best athletes.

- This year 12.25% of NRL players have Indigenous heritage, compared to the general population national average of less than 3%.

- In 2008, Rugby League became the first sport to announce a formal Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)

- The RAP is a formal recognition of the support that NRL clubs, players and various arms of the game extend to Indigenous communities. It also provides direct material assistance to Indigenous communities.

- As part of the RAP, a Reconciliation Cup match was created as an annual calendar event to celebrate the Indigenous contribution to the game.

- The game in 2008 also formed an Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council to provide independent advice on Indigenous matters including cultural protocol and issues requiring mediation.

- Under the plan an Indigenous Player Advisory Group has been established which assists in providing strategic advice and mentoring to young players in the game.

- This Advisory Group model is being used in other areas of the game with meetings already held with players from the Pacific Islands, Maori and PNG.

- This group is led by NRL Education Officer Nigel Vagana and are set to launch a calendar as part of a Pacifica Cultural Festival in partnership with Casula Powerhouse Museum.

- In 2009, the NRL became the first national sporting code to join the Close the Gap campaign, which is Australia’s largest ever campaign to improve the life expectancy and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

- Rugby League has delivered the Australian Sports Commission’s cultural awareness workshop to all players across the NRL and this remains a core component of the Induction Program. Players are provided with updates on a regular basis during their playing career. Each year, 240 players participate in the program and since 2005, over 1,000 players have completed the program.

-  The NRL has included an Anti Vilification policy approved by the Human Rights Commission as part of its rules and Code of Conduct since its inception in 1998. Explanation of players rights under the policy is a key part of NRL ‘induction’ camps and a key part of on-going player education.

- The policy was reviewed by the Human Rights Commission in 2007 and deemed to meet all requirements.

NRL All Stars Game

The inaugural Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars Match was held in February 2010.

With the unique concept being established in response to player feedback following the Indigenous Dreamteam v New Zealand Maori match at the 2008 Rugby League World Cup, the game provides the National Rugby League the opportunity to showcase an important Indigenous Celebration to the nation and in turn complements the Federal Government’s strategy towards cultural acceptance and tolerance within the community. The 2010 game marked the second anniversary of Prime Minister Rudd’s apology to the Stolen Generation.

The event is supported by the NRL Community Carnival – the biggest annual celebration of Rugby League in regional Australia and sees NRL players from all 16 clubs blitz the community over a week-long period.

The game aims to achieve success on a multitude of levels including; inspiring young footballers to strive to represent their people or the game of rugby league in a unique event that has all proceeds being directed to charities and community programs; providing a national platform to promote the game’s appreciation of its Indigenous players and the attributes they bring to the game ; promoting the strength of the game’s Indigenous participation and the impact the game of rugby league has on Aboriginal communities throughout the Eastern Seaboard and Northern Territory; raising over $10 million in the first five years which will be directly invested into community programs that allow the game’s National Indigenous Strategy to be developed and implemented.

Earn. Learn. Legend!
In 2010, the Rudd Government teamed up with the National Rugby League in a three-year partnership to encourage Indigenous children to stay in school and aspire to good jobs.

Using the NRL Indigenous All Stars team to promote the message ‘Learn. Earn. Legend!’, the goal is to encourage young Indigenous Australians to have a go, stay at school and ensure a pathway to employment.

Two weeks ago NRL Players partnered the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) and the Indigenous owned company ‘Corporate Culcha’ in the first of a series of four career expos for Indigenous students.

The partnership with DEEWR also includes:
- One of the Indigenous All Stars becoming an ongoing Government ambassador to promote education and employment opportunities for the next three years

- Publicising the Learn Earn Legend message at NRL All Stars matches through to 2012

- A careers market at the 2010 All Stars match

- An Indigenous Youth Summit in 2011 and 2012

- Access to the NRL “One Community” resources that concentrate on a healthy lifestyle, to complement the Australian Government’s Indigenous Education and Employment initiatives

- Developing Indigenous cultural events with an education and employment theme to be held in regional centres across NSW and Qld to coincide with future All Stars games in 2011 and 2012; and

- A commitment from the NRL to work with the Government to develop further Indigenous employment and education initiatives.

Acknowledgement of Country

National 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.

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