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NRL and Indigenous leaders have called for the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars to expand as a national symbol of reconciliation.

In a week where NRL Clubs have been targeting the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in the lead-up to this weekend’s ‘Learn. Earn. Legend!’ Close the Gap Round, the game has demonstrated the tangible benefits that are already flowing from the first All Stars game and has outlined plans to do even more in the future.

As the general public today got their chance to purchase tickets to the 2011 All Stars game, NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, and ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William “Smiley” Johnstone, joined South Sydney’s Beau Champion, Nathan Merritt and Sam Burgess and Manly’s Josh Perry to showcase the community programs which have flowed from the ground-breaking All Stars game on the Gold Coast in February this year.

Held at the Souths Cares classroom at Sydney Corporate Park, Alexandria – itself a project funded by the All Stars – today’s event outlined some of the key programs currently being rolled out across Rugby League’s One Community and the 16 NRL Clubs, including:

- Manly’s ‘Eagles Nest’ program at Royal Far West in Manly, which is delivering educational programs and a recreational room for visiting sick children, 70% of whom are Indigenous.

- The Panther Bytes Bus, a mobile healthy lifestyle classroom targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in Western Sydney.

- The Eels Blue & Gold Deadly Heart program, which is working with Indigenous children in the New England region to close the life expectancy and health gaps.

- The Rabbitohs Healthy and Active Lifestyle Program, which will be delivered to Years 5 and 6 students from the South Sydney area at a new Souths Cares classroom.

- The Roosters ‘Stick With It’ program which is teaching Indigenous school-aged children in outback NSW and Eastern Sydney the fundamentals of exercise and healthy lifestyles as well as setting and achieving goals.

Also showcased today was the ‘Learn, Earn, Legend! partnership between the NRL and the Federal Government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), which encourages young Indigenous Australians to stay in school and aspire to success in the workplace, and also helps their transition from education to employment.

Already this year has seen three ‘Learn, Earn, Legend!’ Indigenous Employment Expos, in Dubbo, Sydney and Wagga Wagga, giving more than 2,000 young Indigenous Australians the opportunity to meet education and employment exhibitors and take part in leadership workshops facilitated by NRL players.

“The All Stars was one of the most historic and exciting events in Rugby League and showed what a real difference our game can make in the community,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

“The players, the NRL Clubs, the Federal and Queensland Governments, the 50,000 fans who voted, the 26,687 who packed Skilled Park and the more than 1.2million who watched on television – they should all be proud of the positive and lasting impact of the inaugural game and the excitement already building around the 2011 All Stars.

“It is fitting we are today showcasing some of the NRL Club and One Community programs to come out of the All Stars, as tickets go on sale to the public for the 2011 game, to be played on February 12 at Skilled Park.

“There is no doubt that there will be even more excitement and anticipation around the 2011 All Stars, especially with the announcement last week of the two-day Bumehla Festival at Broadwater Parklands to coincide with the game.”

The inaugural Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars, in February this year, captured the imagination of Rugby League fans across Australia and brought together a sell-out crowd, live television audience of 1.292 million viewers and tens of thousands more fans in celebration of the strong links between Rugby League and Indigenous Australians.

The centrepiece of Rugby League’s commitment to Indigenous Australia, the All Stars also raised $1.5million towards community programs now being delivered through Rugby League’s One Community and the 16 NRL Clubs, with an emphasis on Indigenous health, education and employment.

“The Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars is a unique and special event in Rugby League and, indeed, Australian sport,” ARL Indigenous Chairman, Smiley Johnstone, said today.

“The concept has been a great success in bringing about practical reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and in making a meaningful and positive difference to so many children, families and communities.

“Today is about showing how the $1.5million raised through the All Stars is being delivered into health, education and employment programs in Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across Australia.

“It is also about reminding Rugby League fans and all Australians that we can close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and that we must continually strive to do so.”

Today’s event comes on the eve of the launch of Rugby League’s updated Reconciliation Action Plan for 2010-2013, in Townsville, and ahead of the ‘Learn. Earn. Legend!’ Close the Gap Round of the Telstra Premiership, which features the Reconciliation Cup match between the Cowboys and Bulldogs on Saturday night (August 21).

The ‘Learn. Earn. Legend!’ Close the Gap Round will this year again highlight the need to focus on key areas including Indigenous health, education, employment and life expectancy, with Rugby League fans encouraged to support the campaign by signing the Close the Gap pledge at

Co-Chair of the Close the Gap Steering Committee and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda, said the NRL and its Clubs are making a real commitment to improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“The announcement of the All Stars community programs is a perfect lead-in to this weekend’s Close the Gap Round which will take the message to audiences around the country that it is possible to fix the Indigenous health crisis,” Commissioner Gooda said.

Today’s event also follows the announcement at the weekend by the ARL Indigenous Council, the National Rugby League and the ARL of a range of game-wide measures to promote cultural awareness and address future racial vilification issues.

The new measures follow a review last month of the game’s vilification procedures and include Cultural Support Officers to be identified within each NRL Club, cultural awareness training to be reinforced across the game, with suspensions, fines and the compulsory investigation of all vilification issues to form part of a game-wide range of measures to combat racism in the community.

All Stars Funding Outcomes Summary
Brisbane Broncos in the Community
Supporting charity partners working towards closing the gap in health
- Australian Cervical Cancer Foundation
- Bravehearts
- Mimiki Foundation
- Mission Australia
- Starlight Children’s Foundation

Particular focus on Foster Care Queensland – high rate of Indigenous children

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs - Rainbow Serpent Tours

- Promoting illness prevention and health education to Aboriginal school children and their families
- Conducted at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead across key departments
- Includes health checks for children
- Families taught basic first aid skills for use in the home and community

North Queensland Cowboys - Obe Geia Challenge
Annual carnival hosted by Palm Island Community in partnership with the Cowboys.
- Promotes harmony and grass-roots Rugby League while helping Palm Island in their bid for a junior competition.
- Promotes a healthy lifestyle and enables Palm Island to showcase their island and culture.

Dragons Community Cultural & Mentoring Programs
Cultural Programs
- Myimbarr Learning Centre – helping Indigenous students with schooling and health and well-being
- Jervis Bay Public School – literacy and HSIE programs
- University of Wollongong Indigenous Kids Fun Day

Mentoring Programs
- Positive Behaviour for Success
- Southern Youth and Family Services partnership
- Links to Learning
- Healthy Active Positive Youth program

Manly Sea Eagles
Eagles Nest – Royal Far West Manly facility delivering educational programs and recreational room for visiting sick children (70% are Indigenous)
- Ready Set Grow – one-day practical workshop on using school food gardens as a key health education strategy
- Greenroom Grommets – using traditional relationships between coastal-based Indigenous people and the ocean to teach young Indigenous females to surf
- Live United Mentoring Camp – Indigenous youth attend Peachey Foundation mentoring and cultural immersion camps and similar camps in Sydney

Newcastle Knights Community Program
Raise awareness about Indigenous issues in the Hunter
- Provide Aboriginal youth with programs to learn about their culture and the importance of education, health and well-being
- Established Knights Indigenous Steering Committee
-‘Beginning Season Together’ initiative – Indigenous Smoking Ceremony and Welcome to Country at first home game
- Knights Indigenous Community Appearances (regional), Indigenous Youth Day and annual Indigenous Dinner

Penrith Panthers - Panthers on the Prowl / Healthy Lifestyle Program

- Panther Bytes Bus – mobile healthy lifestyle classroom targeting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse communities
- Indigenous Awards Ceremony for 30 primary and secondary students in conjunction with the Aboriginal Education Consultative Group

Parramatta Eels - Blue & Gold Deadly Heart – Our Community, Our Future
- Partnership between Eels and New England Division of General Practice 
- Focus on closing the gap in Indigenous life expectancy and improving health outcomes for Aboriginal people throughout the New England region of NSW
- Working with primary and high school-aged children and transferring knowledge and practices to extended family

South Sydney Rabbitohs - Healthy and Active Lifestyle Program

- Offered to Primary Schools in the South Sydney area
- Focus on Indigenous students and Years 5/6
- Features a fully fitted-out classroom at Sydney Corporate Park
- Delivering Healthy and Active Lifestyle messages in conjunction with Life Education.
- Includes One Community ‘Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well’ and ‘Dream, Believe, Achieve’ resources

Canberra Raiders - Raiders Reaching Out
Tackling Indigenous Health
- Centerpiece is tackling smoking, the single biggest killer of Aboriginal people
- Targeting 13-16 year olds
- Also promoting benefits of a healthy lifestyle to beat boredom

Positive Choices Positive Outcomes – promoting healthy lifestyle messages to primary school-aged children

Sydney Roosters - Stick With It program
Teaching school-aged children the fundamentals of exercise and healthy lifestyles as well as setting goals and how to achieve them
- Targeting outback NSW and Eastern Sydney
- Partnered by NSW Department of Education & Training

Gold Coast Titans - Healthy Lifestyle Program
Educating primary school-aged children and parents about the importance of good nutrition and the benefits of leading an active, healthy lifestyle
- Four-week program which consists of both indoor and outdoor lessons
- Parents invited to participate in workshops reinforcing a positive message to children along with important nutritional information

Cronulla Sharks - PCYC Sutherland
Encouraging young people to be active in life through education, sport and recreation, culture, life skills and outreach work
Programs include
- Graffiti Removal & Intervention Project
- Bourke to the Bay – Indigenous cultural exchange program
- Footy Fever – crime prevention workshops and team sporting sessions
- SESS – assisting new mothers of all demographics who may be having difficulties or need post natal assistance

Melbourne Storm - Storming Against Violence
Working with young Indigenous and Pacific Islander people to create an awareness of respectful relationships and the unacceptability of violence against women and children
Program includes
- Melbourne Storm Respect for Women Policy
- Be the Hero Program – players trained as ambassadors to U18s and U20s
- Schools outreach program
- Parent and Community engagement

New Zealand Warriors One Community program
Warriors Against Bullying
- Using Rugby League terms and images to teach primary school children how to deal with bullying in a sensible and constructive way
- Five-week program aimed at Year 5 students
- Includes Backyard Legends program

Delivering ‘Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well’, Rugby League Reads and Learning in Libraries to primary school students

Wests Tigers - KARI Aboriginal Resources partnership
Partnering with KARI Aboriginal Resources to develop and implement high quality, culturally appropriate programs and initiatives for the betterment of the Indigenous Community.
- Focus on Indigenous communities in South West Sydney.

Tickets for the 2011 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars are on sale to the general public from 9am AEST today and are available through Ticketek outlets, on 132 849 or New Zealand customers can call 0800 842 538 or +61 132 849.

2011 All Stars Ticket Categories and Prices

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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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