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NRL Referees Coach Robert Finch has challenged all match officials to have the courage to make the big calls ahead of a crucial final round of the Telstra Premiership in which seven of the eight matches can have a bearing on the finals race.

And referees will have no better motivation to follow the courage of their convictions than the special jerseys each will wear this round in support of Bravehearts, Australia’s largest child protection advocacy group, and the ‘White Balloon Day’ campaign on Tuesday, September 7.

“It’s a crucial round for teams trying to make the top eight and it’s also important that our officials perform to the best of their ability and earn their places in the finals as well,” Finch said today.

“We know the spotlight will be on every decision we make and I think it says a lot about how important the Bravehearts cause is to our team of officials that each year we pick such an important round of the competition to raise awareness for the incredible work they do.”

In its fourth season, the ongoing partnership between Bravehearts and NRL Match Officials hopes to encourage millions of Australians to support those who have been harmed by child sexual assault, to actively protect children through education and awareness and to have the courage and integrity to stand up for Australia’s children no matter how hard the call.

The Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans will also show their support for Bravehearts with various activities at their home matches tomorrow night.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson today expressed her gratitude for the support that the NRL, its clubs and referees have shown for this important cause.

“Each year the NRL referees truly outdo themselves in raising the bar and generating incredible widespread support throughout the whole community,” Ms Johnson said.

“The NRL already do so much for Australian kids at a grass-roots community level and it’s so great to see them do even more by helping us educate, empower and protect all kids from the realities of child sexual assault.

“You don’t need to be wealthy to be a part of this historic movement in child protection. Support the children you know and love. No matter how big or small, every contribution counts.

“From simply showing your support by wearing white on September 7, or getting your school or workplace involved and making donations, we can all do our bit to make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.

“We all have a choice. We can do something or we can do nothing.

“Australia’s children are relying on us to do something.”

The Bravehearts jerseys have been made possible thanks to the support of NRL match officials sponsor AAMI, which has donated its branding space on the jerseys.

This year’s event marks the 14th annual national awareness and fundraising campaign for ‘White Balloon Day’.

Staged during Child Protection Week (Sep 5-11), the white balloon has become synonymous with child protection and this special day has evolved into Bravehearts’ signature national event.

Australians can participate in White Balloon Day on September 7 by:

- Wearing white or buying a White Balloon Day product through any MYER, Bendigo Bank or Salvos store; - Flying a white balloon from your home, letterbox, business or community organisation; - Organise an event such as a morning/afternoon tea at your home, school or workplace; - Get your school involved by entering the ‘White Gate’ schools competition and go in the draw to win $2500 cash for your school. Visit for entry details.

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