The NRL is supporting the campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia’s Constitution as part of Rugby League’s new Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).
In 2008, the NRL became the first Australian sporting organisation to develop and implement a RAP.
And now, in 2014, the NRL becomes the first national sporting organisation to have a RAP which focuses on longer term strategies and hard targets and goals.
NRL CEO Dave Smith said the 2014- 2017 RAP demonstrated that the NRL was taking its leadership to a new level by committing to:
• Establishing a partnership with the Recognise Campaign to support Constitutional recognition.
• Increasing to 15 per cent the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players at an elite level – up from 12 per cent – by 2017.
• Developing a strategy for increasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation, including women, across all aspects of the game by the end of next year.
• Developing an Elite Pathways program to increase Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players within junior rugby league competitions by the end of next year.
• Providing Welfare Officers and mentoring programs for elite junior and senior Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players to support education, training and employment.
• Establishing procurement policies that ensure at least three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses supply goods and services to the NRL.
• Increasing employment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to five per cent.
“The NRL can influence social change and make a real difference to people’s lives,” Mr Smith said.
“As an organisation, we have never sat on the sidelines on issues we care about, whether it is our opposition to homophobia in sport or passionately promoting healthy living.
“We’re about rolling up our sleeves and standing up for something- because we genuinely care about the kind of community we live in and are committed to our game remaining inclusive.
“That’s why our RAP commits us to partnering with the Recognise Campaign, to throw our support behind the constitutional recognition of our first peoples.”
The Chair of the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council, The Hon. Linda Burney, said Rugby League was a fundamental part of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities.
“Rugby League has demonstrated its commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities through the setting of aspirational targets,” Ms Burney said.
“I have always had the view that Reconciliation is a destination. The journey towards it is where the real learnings take place.
“We look forward to being part of this journey as Rugby League continues to confirm its place as the sport of choice for our people.”
The RAP will be launched tonight (Friday) prior to the Parramatta Eels v Bulldogs game at ANZ Stadium.
Earlier this week, the Eels launched its own RAP, which also includes supporting the Recognise campaign.
Reconciliation Australia Chief Executive, Leah Armstrong, commends the NRL on their ongoing commitment to reconciliation.
“We are proud of the history we have with the NRL in making a difference to the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities,” Ms Armstrong said.
“The NRL has taken the next significant step on their reconciliation journey with the launch of their third Reconciliation Action Plan and support of the Recognise campaign.
“As one of the highest profile sports in Australia, the NRL plays an important role in leading positive change to address the disparity between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.”
Round 23 is the NRL’s Close The Gap round with more than 50 activities occur across three States dedicated to raising awareness of the importance of reducing the gap in health equality between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.