Raiders help 'Close the Gap'

Canberra Raiders stars Travis Waddell and David Shillington paid a visit to Winnunga Nimmityjah Aboriginal Health Service in Canberra Today, to launch the Raiders involvement in the NRL’s Close the Gap round. <br><br> This Sunday at the Raiders v Dragons match at Canberra Stadium, Oxfam will be using the match to raise awareness and money for the Close the Gap initiative. <br><br> Canberra Raiders players Travis Waddell, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Joel Thompson all represented the Indigenous All-Stars at this years NRL All-Stars match to start the 2010 season and are ambassadors this weekend. <br><br> Canberra Raiders hooker and Indigenous All-Star Travis Waddell said he was proud to be able to help promote the Close the gap round and said representing indigenous Australians was something he held close to his heart. <br><br> “It’s important that we look at thinks like Indigenous health and help out where we can to raise awareness for things like Close the Gap,” Waddell said. “After playing in the All-stars game this year I suppose I see myself as a role model for young indigenous people and if I can help in anyway I will.” <br><br> Part of closing the gap is bringing indigenous and non-indigenous Australians together to help promote awareness and Canberra Raiders forward and NRL All-Star David Shillington joined Travis Waddell today. <br><br> Shillington said it’s great to see the NRL use its profile to help the cause and said he knew how proud the Raiders indigenous players were of their heritage. <br><br> “I think it’s great when the NRL does a whole of game awareness campaign like Close the Gap and helps raise the awareness of issues like this,” Shillington said. “Being involved in the All-Stars game earlier this year I saw what an impact it made on Indigenous communities and I know Travis, Joel Thompson and Tom Learoyd-Lahrs are all proud indigenous Australians.” <br><br> The National Rugby League (NRL) is the first sporting code to support Close the Gap, Australia’s largest ever campaign to improve the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This partnership with the NRL provides the campaign with an opportunity to raise awareness of Indigenous health inequality to a wider audience. <br><br> The NRL's involvement in Close the Gap came about through the urging of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are less than 3% of Australia’s population, they make up more than 11% of current NRL players. <br><br> For the second year, the NRL has dedicated a round of matches to Close the Gap. The Close the Gap round will take place from August 20 – 23, with matches to be played in Sydney, Newcastle, Melbourne, Townsville and Canberra. Games will be broadcast on Channel Nine and Fox Sports 2. <br><br> The Raiders are also involved in a number of indigenous programs including school visits to indigenous children, the tackling indigenous health program and hosting of a health day for indigenous children (Saturday August 28).