League launches new Reconciliation Action Plan

Rugby League has today outlined its commitment to Indigenous communities through education, employment and health with the launch of the game’s second Reconciliation Action Plan in Townsville. <br><br> On the eve of the game’s Learn Earn Legend! Close the Gap Round, Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston joined NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, Reconciliation Australia Board Member, Dr Tom Calma, and ARL Indigenous Council Chairman, Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone, to outline details of the on-going partnership between Rugby League and Reconciliation Australia. <br><br> Rugby League broke new ground in 2008, becoming the first national sporting body to commit to a Reconciliation Action Plan with Reconciliation Australia. Rugby League remains the only sport with a registered plan. <br><br> “That plan led to the establishment of the ARL Indigenous Council, the Indigenous Player Advisory Group and set the scene for an NRL All Stars game that would become one of most powerful statements about practical reconciliation we have seen in sport,” Mr Gallop said today. <br><br> “The new three-year plan has been commissioned to meet the huge number of opportunities created through the All Stars game and includes government and community partnerships that go well beyond sport. <br><br> “It is a plan that aims to make a genuine statement about reconciliation and which looks to make a difference in the opportunities available to many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. <br><br> “Fittingly it is being launched in a week where all clubs are supporting the Close the Gap Round and in which the Cowboys and the Bulldogs prepare to play for the annual Reconciliation Cup.” <br><br> The plan targets Indigenous employment, education, health and sporting opportunities under the key areas of Relationships, Respect, Opportunities and includes specific obligations in terms of tracking and progress reporting. <br><br> It forms a key part of the game’s strategic planning and of its core values of Pride, Decency, Innovation, Community Spirit, Opportunity and Inclusiveness. <br><br> “The recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Reconciliation Cups and All Stars games is important to all Indigenous Australians and the fact that we can commit to a plan to make a difference through Rugby League really means something,” Cowboys skipper and Indigenous Player Advisory Group member Johnathan Thurston said. <br><br> Already the NRL has undertaken an independent review with the Australian Human Rights Commission of all vilification policies and recommended a number of initiatives to promote cultural awareness and to challenge racism of all kinds. <br><br> Congratulating the NRL on the launch of their second RAP, Dr Tom Calma said Rugby League played an enormous role in Australian life and that the new RAP would continue to make a positive impact on reconciliation. <br><br> “Teamwork, respect, understanding, trust and relationships, both on and off the field, are key characteristics that Rugby League and reconciliation have in common,” Dr Calma said. <br><br> “The game’s new RAP contains a number of actions that will see Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players continue to develop and perform at their best, which is what we all, as fans, love to see. <br><br> “This RAP’s commitment to programs that engage in education, health and welfare strengthens the commitments to reconciliation and Reconciliation Australia looks forward to regular updates on the progress of this significant new document." <br><br> Among the initiatives in the plan are: <br><br> - Ongoing commitment to the NRL All Stars with increased revenues to be raised for Indigenous programs <br> - The creation of an Indigenous support unit within Rugby League<br> - The appointment of the Australian Rugby Indigenous League Council as the game-wide Reconciliation Action Plan Working Group<br> - Increased consultation between the Council and the Indigenous Player Advisory Group<br> - Development of the Learn Earn Legend! campaign to promote education and employment <br> - Development of a game-wide Indigenous employment strategy<br> - Identification of Cultural Support officers in NRL clubs<br> - Development of new cultural awareness programs<br> - Targeted programs to encourage women and girls in both participation and administration of sport <br> - An on-going commitment to Close the Gap <br> - One Community involvement through “Eat Well, Play Well, Stay Well” campaigns in Indigenous communities<br> - One Community involvement through Rugby League Reads programs in Indigenous communities<br> - Annual surveys of Indigenous player groups to identify and address issues<br> - Government and corporate partnerships to identify further community opportunities <br><br> “Rugby League is showing how all Australians can work together to bring about true practical reconciliation,” Mr Johnstone said. <br><br> “This plan represents an important partnership within Rugby League as well as a leadership position that will hopefully encourage other community organisations to commit to their own Reconciliation Action Plan.” <br><br> <b><a href="http://www.rugbyleague.com.au/rap/reconciliation_action_plan_2010-2013.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view the Reconciliation Action Plan for 2010 - 2013</a></b><br> <b><a href="http://www.rugbyleague.com.au/rap/reconciliation_action_plan_2008-2009_report.pdf" target="_blank">Click here to view the Reconciliation Action Report for 2008 - 2009</a></b>