Less than 24 hours before kicking off, the Harvey Norman Women in League Round received a significant boost today with the Federal Government announcing it will contribute $150,000 towards programs that encourage Indigenous women and girls to participate in Rugby League.

Awarded through the Federal Government’s Indigenous Sport and Recreation Program, the grant will initially fund programs in NSW and Queensland that encourage Indigenous women and girls to participate in sport and physical activity through Rugby League competitions and coaching and mentoring workshops.

It will also allow the NRL to continue successful initiatives already in place such as the Indigenous Women’s All Stars versus Women’s All Stars game played for the first time in February this year ahead of the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars on the Gold Coast.

“Australia’s Indigenous community has a strong passion and connection to Rugby League and this funding will give more women and girls the opportunity to actively participate in the game,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said.

“It will also help us to continue closing the gap on Indigenous health and wellbeing where we know the life expectancy of Indigenous Australians is a decade less than non-Indigenous Australians.

“This is a particularly significant and pleasing announcement to be making as we kick off our annual Harvey Norman Women in League Round which recognises and pays tribute to the 50,000 women involved across Rugby League.”

Minister for Sport, Senator Mark Arbib, today congratulated the NRL on receiving the funding, which is part of the Federal Government’s ongoing commitment to improving the health and physical wellbeing of Indigenous Australians, closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage and contributing to broader social benefits.

“The Indigenous Sport and Recreation program supports community participation in sport and physical activities to help improve the health and physical wellbeing of Indigenous Australians,” Senator Arbib said.

“We all know that playing sport has positive health and mental health impacts as well as developing skills like teamwork and sportsmanship.

“The NRL has done a fantastic job in promoting physical activity for Indigenous people and I know this program will help women and girls become more involved. I congratulate them in their efforts to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage.”