Indigenous Council keen to build on impressive first term
Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council chair Linda Burney is hoping to build on a stellar first term after being reappointed to the role for a further four years.
The Federal Member for Barton is one of three returning Council members, with five new faces appointed to provide strategic advice to the game and to help achieve greater recognition, involvement and support for Indigenous communities.
"Being reappointed the chairperson of the National Indigenous Rugby League Council is very important to me because I love rugby league," Burney told NRL.com.
"I've been involved in Aboriginal affairs for something like 40 years now.
"I'm a senior politician and what I bring to the chair's role is the great skill of negotiation, the great skill of finding a way through things, but also being able to advise the Commission and the whole game on issues to do with Aboriginal people and how that interfaces with the rugby league family."
A successful first term culminated with the NRL being honoured at the Beyond Sports Awards in London where they were named Sport Governing Body of the Year for their School to Work program.
The initiative was recognised for its success in providing increased opportunities, through Rugby League, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians to access quality programs aimed at closing the gap between Indigenous and other Australians across key social indicators such as education, employment and health.
Ms Burney was proud of the fact that over 90 per cent of students who started the program went on to complete it; the flow-on effect being that more Indigenous teenagers have been able to find further education or employment.
"What is the great equaliser? What is the thing that all of us participate in, whether we live in the bush or live in the city? It's school, and school has the enormous power to change lives, to bring about outcomes for everyone," she said.
"It hasn't always been the case, and the fact that rugby league along with funding from federal government over a long period of time and some corporate partners have been able to deliver that and continue that.
"Getting that award is recognition of the role rugby league can play within the Aboriginal community, and of course the broader community.
"I think that's really crucial because when you think about the power of the game, when you think about the influence the game has – particularly in NSW and Queensland – and then to see that recognised in relation to School to Work is fantastic.
"Keeping kids in school – what better investment can there be – and the role that rugby league has in that is really exciting."