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The Australian Rugby League Commission has announced the new Rugby League Indigenous Council naming former Balmain Tigers and Raiders star Percy Knight as Chairman.

The 2012 Council was unveiled at the launch of the 2013 Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars in Brisbane today and includes the inaugural Learn Earn Legend! Indigenous All Stars captain Preston Campbell.

In announcing the Council today, the Commission paid tribute to the inaugural ARL Indigenous Council Chaired by Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone and established in 2008.

The new council is:  Mr Percy Knight (Chair): Mr Preston Campbell; The Hon Linda Burney MP (NSW); Mr Glenn Brennan; Ms Katrina Fanning; Mr Darren Godwill; Mr William ‘Smiley’ Johnstone; Mr Stephen Tillett.

Australian Rugby League Commissioner, Dr Chris Sarra, underlined the importance of the Council’s role in guiding policy on Indigenous issues in the game as well as the ways in which Rugby League can provide leadership in Indigenous communities.

“The Indigenous Council can play an important role in helping to shape policy across the game and in helping to inspire Indigenous communities,” Dr Sarra said.

“The work of the inaugural Council has already had a profound effect in the development of reconciliation action plans, the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars and in the development of Indigenous programs.

“Those Council members are to be congratulated and the new Council will work with the Commission and the administration to continue that legacy.”

The Rugby League Indigenous Council was established as a key objective of the Reconciliation Action Plan adopted by the game in 2008.

The Council has also worked to develop the game’s current Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), 2010-2013.

In assuming the role of Chairman, Mr Knight said that Rugby League was in a great position to promote social inclusion.

“For the first time in the history of Rugby League we have three Indigenous Premiership captains at the one time in Johnathan Thurston, Sam Thaiday and Scott Prince,” he said.

“The players, their achievements and the decision by NRL clubs to appoint them as captains all highlight the fact that Rugby League is a game about engagement and that we share the same agenda in terms of social inclusion.

“The Council believes Rugby League is a powerful instrument and we need to continue to harness this power in working to promote social inclusion.

“I would like to thank the outgoing Council for its outstanding contribution made to Indigenous communities through education, employment and health programs and starting the journey to align of Indigenous Rugby League across the country.”

2012-2014 Rugby League Indigenous Council

Mr Percy Knight (Chairperson)
A talented Rugby League player, Mr Knight played for both the Balmain Tigers and Canberra Raiders and was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation Ltd (WCC) and the Wiradjuri Condobolin Culture and Heritage Company (WCCHC) in 2003, with the primary objective to relieve poverty, sickness, suffering, distress, misfortune, destitution and helplessness of Condobolin Wiradjuri people.

Mr Glen Brennan
Mr Brennan is currently Head of Indigenous Finance and Development with the National Australia Bank (NAB) where he leads their commercial and non-commercial Indigenous banking activities and also acts as Deputy Chairperson of the Aboriginal Employment Strategy and has previously led the Australian Sports Commission’s Sports Program Division.

The Hon Linda Burney MP
Ms Burney was the first Aboriginal person elected to the NSW Parliament and has had a distinguished career as both a Member of Parliament and a Senior Public Servant, including Director General Aboriginal Affairs NSW.

An executive member of the National Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and President of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group and Member for Canterbury since 2003, Linda is currently the Deputy Leader of the NSW Opposition, Shadow Minister for Planning, Infrastructure and Heritage, Shadow Minister for the Hunter, Shadow Minister for Sport and Recreation and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast.

Mr Preston Campbell
The driving influence behind the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars concept and the 2008 Ken Stephen Medal recipient, Mr Campbell played professional Rugby League for 14 years, playing more than 250 games during a stellar career with the Cronulla Sharks, Penrith Panthers and Gold Coast Titans. Since retiring, Preston has continued to work tirelessly in Indigenous communities across the country.

Mr Darren Godwell
Mr Godwell's career has included advising to the World Bank and working for global media giant Bertelsmann AG. He created Australia’s first national Indigenous-controlled philanthropic foundation and created the Indigenous Sports Program at the Australian Sports Commission. Today he's a Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service (ATSILS) and runs his own firm as consultant on matters of business development and strategy.

Mr William (Smiley) Johnstone
Mr Johnstone was the inaugural Chairperson of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council (ARLIC) that was established in 2007 and was influential in developing the Harvey Norman Rugby League All Stars match.

Mr Johnstone is the Managing Director, Indigenous Development Corporation as well as being a Director, KMK Consulting; Independent Board Member of New South Wales Rugby League; and Director, Indigenous Business Council of Australia.

Ms Katrina Fanning
Ms Fanning has been in public service for 17 years, predominantly as a Senior Executive in the Commonwealth Public Service. She has also worked as an independent advisor to Australian, New Zealand and ACT Governments.

She has represented Australia in Rugby League in 24 test matches, including two World Cups.  President of the Canberra and Australian Women’s Rugby League she was instrumental in organising the first female Indigenous Test between Australia and the New Zealand Maori in 2003.

Mr Stephen Tillett
A Torres Strait Islander, Mr Tillett was born on Palm Island and grew up in communities such as Weipa, Bamaga and Thursday Islands and currently works as the Cross Cultural Liaison Officer for the Queensland Police Service. Part of the inaugural North Queensland Cowboys, he has also been a player and committee member of the FNQ Marlins Police Rugby League Club and a  member of the AFL Cape York Board of which he is currently Deputy Chairperson.

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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