The NRL has launched the fourth edition in its 'Power For Change' series, with the latest story focussed on the code's School to Work program.
The NRL's School to Work program commenced in 2012 and utilises the positive profile of rugby league to support and encourage young Indigenous Australians to complete high school and move into work or further education.
More than 750 students have been involved with the program thus far, with 99.1 per cent of graduates successfully transitioning into further education or sustainable employment.
Montana Wink is one of the several hundred School to Work graduates and tells her story through the latest Power For Change campaign.
Montana was selectively mute up until the age of 15 and learnt sign language as a child.
In year 11, everything changed and Montana gradually started speaking and gained a new-found confidence.
It was also in year 11 that Montana learnt about the NRL School to Work program and was introduced to School to Work Program Manager, Shaun Humphries, who would go on to become Montana’s mentor throughout her final years at school and into university.
In just a few short years, Montana has continued to grow in ability, having graduated high school and now studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Biology and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at Sydney University.
"An Indigenous-based program like School to Work is hugely important for Indigenous students," Ms Wink said.
"One of the big things being Indigenous is your connection to culture and to have someone connected with a program that truly understands where you come from was an amazing thing for me."
NRL Head of Community and Government Relations, Jaymes Boland-Rudder said the School to Work program had inspired many like Montana to achieve goals and aspirations that may have seemed out of reach before being part of the mentoring program.
"The School to Work program is another example of many programs that the NRL deliver to community members, including some that are not connected with rugby league, that make a true difference and provide a positive impact within society," Mr Boland-Rudder said.
"The NRL has a proud history of supporting Indigenous youth and communities and the School to Work program will continue to inspire hundreds of students each year as they progress through an influential and important time in their lives."
The NRL was officially recognised on the world stage in 2016, winning an award at the Beyond Sport Awards in London for the game’s School to Work program.
The Australian Government has supported the program since its inception and in June this year committed an additional $6.3 million to expand and continue the program through to 2020.
For more information on the Power For Change campaign and the NRL's Indigenous School to Work program, please visit: nrl.com/forchange