Off the back of the NRL Multicultural round, the NRL/RLPA Wellbeing and Education and RLPA are proud to launch their Pasifika (Pacific Islander) and Māori advisory groups.
The purpose of this initiative is to ensure views of Pasifika (Pacific Islander) and Māori people are incorporated across the wellbeing and education space of the NRL and NRLW competitions. This will be achieved through the establishment of two working groups.
First, the Pasifika and Māori Players Advisory Group consisting of up to 12 players from NRL/NRLW teams aimed to act as voice for the Pasifika and Māori playing cohort. Second, the Pacific Wellbeing Advisory Group made up of currently employed NRL club wellbeing officers of Pacific Islander and Māori descent.
Tim Lythe, the RLPA’s Head of Strategy & Projects said:
"We are incredibly proud of our diverse playing group, which is made up of a significant number of Māori & Pasifika players who have made such essential contributions to the game of rugby league over many decades. It’s crucially important we hear the voices of all players, and the Pasifika & Māori Player Advisory Group will play a huge role in bringing forward the views and interests of their players and communities. The RLPA would like to congratulate all those involved, particularly David Solomona, Dr David Lakisa and Sia Soliola."
Both advisory groups will provide “a much-needed collaborative platform”; headed up by NRL/RLPA Wellbeing and Education Programs Manager and Pasifika lead, David Solomona in partnership with the RLPA and Dr David Lakisa of Talanoa Consultancy. Solomona said, “This focussed initiative encourages players and wellbeing managers of Pasifika and Māori ethnicity to celebrate and engage in their culture by cultivating growth and leadership opportunities using Pacific knowledge systems and frameworks”.
For the first time, Solomona has included a program around language, leadership and community work as part of the Advisory Groups.
Senior NRL/RLPA Wellbeing & Education Manager, Paul Heptonstall added: “Given up to 50% of NRL and NRLW competitions are represented by athletes of Pasifika and Māori heritage, we know these innovative advisory groups can help showcase and enhance Pacific excellence on and off the field”.
The NRL/RLPA Wellbeing and Education, RLPA and Talanoa Consultancy will work with the advisory groups and their respective clubs over the coming months to action key outcomes such as improving academic completion rates for Pasifika and Māori athletes, model and promote Pacific cultural safety in the workplace, co-design potential programs and create legacy pieces for past, present and emerging groups.
Parramatta Eels forward Junior Paulo, of Samoan heritage, and member of the advisory group, shares his excitement.
"As a proud Australian with Pacific heritage, I am grateful for opportunities to inspire and guide the future generation. I am genuinely excited for what lies ahead for all who celebrate where they come from and where they want to be," Paulo said.