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The NRL today congratulated Commissioner Chris Sarra who has been named 2016 Person of the Year by the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC).

Chairman John Grant said the award recognised Dr Sarra's extraordinary contribution to improving Aboriginal education and lifestyle.

Dr Sarra, from the Goreng Goreng Aboriginal language group, has been on the ARL Commission since 2012.

He formed the Stronger Smarter Institute in 2006 to improve the way Indigenous education is delivered – while ensuring that participants maintain their identity and culture.

Mr Grant said Dr Sarra has been at the forefront of promoting Rugby League among Indigenous communities.

"Chris understands that Rugby League has the potential to change lives, particularly the lives of our young indigenous people," he said.

"Young people can be inspired to undertake more studies, make better choices and live healthier lifestyles through their participation in and association with Rugby League.

"At the same time, the contribution of our Indigenous people to our game, whether at the grassroots, NRL or international level has never been more significant.

"The Rugby League community is indebted to Chris for his contribution to the work of the Commission and the broader community is much the better for his work with Indigenous groups. 

"This award recognises that contribution and we congratulate and thank him."

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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