Roberts handing out 'Deadly Skills'
With Indigenous Round about to kick-off, the Newcastle Knights – lead by halfback and incumbent Indigenous All Star Tyrone Roberts – have helped expand the messages of the prestigious weekend by promoting TAFENSW's Deadly Skills program.
Deadly Skills engages with young Aboriginal people and encourages them to engage in a vast number of career and study pathways while still at school.
It's something which Roberts can relate to considering he moved to Newcastle from Ballina by himself in his teens with a view to achieve the educational goals he set himself.
Roberts' engagement with Newcastle's Indigenous community is second to none, he previously worked as an ambassador of the Awabakal tribe, and believes by engaging with the Deadly Skills program it was his way of giving back to kids who are in similar situations to the one he was once in.
"I had to sacrifice being with my family and move away from my country – the Bundjalung – to move to Newcastle and to move here to pave myself a career path. I came down to Newcastle for education," Roberts told NRL.com on Thursday at Tighes Hill TAFE's Deadly Skills expo.
"While I've achieved a few sporting feats, my main focus was always education and to become the first in my family to go through to Year 12. So like with these young people here, I can tell them that it is hard but there's always joy at the end of the road.
"I'm a proud Indigenous man and I'm happy to also be here to also help educate the young kids not to be ashamed and to be proud of who are they are and where they have come from."
Having played almost 100 games for the Knights, and earned Country Origin and All Star berths, Roberts showed maturity beyond his 24 years by stressing the importance of getting a good education.
"There are a lot of sacrifices you have to make moving away from your family or just finding an opportunity and taking it with both hands. That's what I have managed to do in my life," Roberts said.
"I suppose I see my role as being able to teach others to always remember where they come from but be aware that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to succeed in life.
"A lot of indigenous people when they grow up, they're shy or always want to stand at the back of the crew. But I'm trying to help young Indigenous people to be out there.
"It's also about showing they want their culture to be recognised and recognise where we came from and to be proud. It's about breaking down barriers. And to do that, you need to speak up."
Newcastle this weekend will also wear the RECONGISE symbol on the chest of their jersey to help push the movement for Indigenous people to be recognised on the Australian Constitution.
"It means a lot to our people. By us trying to raise awareness about closing the gap, there's a big emphasis on that and it's important that we do recognise," Newcastle centre Dane Gagai said.
"I'm hoping I can go out there against the Roosters on Sunday and inspire other young indigenous Australians to do whatever it is they want to do – whether they want to be a professional athlete, or otherwise. I'm hoping to inspire and just do my best for my family, friends and the fans."