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Referees prefer to avoid the spotlight but coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper have today backed NRL officials to draw attention to themselves for all the right reasons during this week’s enthralling final Telstra Premiership round.

With finals positions on the line, NRL Match Officials will this week wear special jerseys in support of Bravehearts, Australia’s largest child protection advocacy group, and their ‘White Balloon Day’ campaign on Wednesday, September 7.

“All season we have directed the referees to back themselves and make the tough calls and that is even more important at this time of the season,” Raper said today.

“Just like the teams, all the match officials are striving to be part of the finals series and this is the round in which they need to put up their hand and show us they are ready for the biggest matches of the year.

“This is a vital round for the make-up of the final eight and I think it says a lot about how important the Bravehearts cause is to our team of officials that we choose such an important round to raise awareness for the amazing work they do.”

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.

The ongoing partnership between Bravehearts, AAMI and NRL Match Officials aims 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 White Balloon Day campaign will be launched at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, September 4, ahead of the sold-out blockbuster between the Brisbane Broncos and Manly Sea Eagles.

Bravehearts’ mascot Ditto and volunteers will be handing out balloons and seeking support from NRL fans, while players and referees will take to the field through special Bravehearts banners at the Broncos-Sea Eagles match and to start the second half of the Titans-Eels game.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston has applauded the NRL, clubs and referees for being in the front row of campaigning for child protection.

“NRL referees never shy away from tough calls and neither does Bravehearts.

“We are determined to stay in the game until Australia is the safest place in the world to raise a child.

“The referees are fantastic examples of fair play and fortitude and their backing is enormously important for Bravehearts’ mission to educate and empower children across the country.

“AAMI’s ongoing support for Bravehearts demonstrates its dedication to ensuring the safety and security of all young Australians.”

Executive Manager Sponsorship - AAMI, Mr John Bennetts said: “AAMI is again delighted and proud to partner with Bravehearts for Round 26 of the NRL season.

“We hope that by raising awareness of this most worthwhile cause, it will assist Bravehearts in a small way to continue the remarkable work it currently undertakes in reducing the incidence of child sexual assault in Australian society.”
This year’s event marks the 15th annual national awareness and fundraising campaign for ‘White Balloon Day’.

Staged during Child Protection Week (Sep 4-11), 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:

- Whiting your workplace by decorating the office with white balloons and wear white to work;

- Flying a white balloon from your home, letterbox, business or community organisation

- Donating money online at or by phoning 07 5552 3000;

- Educating your children about personal safety and purchasing Bravehearts’ ‘Ditto Keep Safe Adventure’ DVD

- Ordering a counter box on consignment and selling White Balloon Day merchandise at your workplace.

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