The NRL will continue its flagship Indigenous education and employment program – NRL School to Work – for another three years, with the Australian Government extending its support of the program through to 2023.
The program commenced in 2012 and has supported thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth make a smooth transition from school to work or further education needed to achieve a participant’s career goals.
NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo thanked the Australian Government for its continued backing of an education and employment initiative that had proved incredibly successful since inception.
“The School to Work program initially commenced nine years ago in response to research that highlighted that the longer Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth delayed further studies post-school or to find employment, the greater the risk of them becoming long-term unemployed,” Mr Abdo said.
“As a sport that includes so many First Nations people, we felt a duty to develop an education and employment pathway that provided greater support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth transitioning from their final years of schooling into the next stage of their lives – and the School to Work program has grown from there.
“The Australian Government has shown tremendous support along the way and together with a majority of our NRL clubs, we have seen many Indigenous students successfully graduate school and continue on their journey.”
School to Work Business Development Officer and former Kangaroos and Blues star, Timana Tahu said the program was instrumental in encouraging Indigenous youth to believe in their abilities and focus on their futures.
“I remember back to my schooling days and the pressure that I felt,” Mr Tahu said.
“I’m thrilled to be still part of a game that I love and particularly as part of the School to Work team, where I get to give back by mentoring the next generation of Indigenous role models, no matter whether they are athletes or not.
“This is a program that is making a real difference to the lives of Indigenous students, their families and our communities and it’s vital that we keep it going for many years to come.”
Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, said a quality education was essential to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.
“Over a number of years, the NRL has demonstrated its commitment to supporting young Indigenous Australians to stay at school, get a job, and be a role model for their families and communities,” Minister Wyatt said.
“More than 200 schools and 11 NRL Clubs participate in the School to Work program that sees students engage with their education and build work-readiness skills.
“A thousand students receive one-on-one mentoring, career guidance, access to work experience opportunities, industry visits and workshops across Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria.
“After students graduate, the NRL then connects students to sustainable jobs through its established strong partnerships with over 100 businesses and institutions.
“Providing a clear employment pathway for hundreds of students has significant positive impacts across the broader community.
“The Government is pleased to support the NRL to continue its work to raise the rate of Indigenous year 12 attainment and improved employment outcomes.”
Participating School to Work students (years 11 – 12) work with a dedicated project officer to build career development plans that focus on career aspirations, personal goals and what students need to do to achieve goals. Students take part in educational, cultural and leadership workshops throughout their involvement in the program, as well as visiting club sponsors, partner organisations and government and corporate supporters to undertake work experience and job-readiness training.
NRL clubs involved in the program include – the Canberra Raiders, Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Melbourne Storm, Newcastle Knights, Parramatta Eels, Penrith Panthers, St George-Illawarra Dragons, Sydney Roosters, Gold Coast Titans and the Wests Tigers.