The NRL on Friday welcomed a $500,000 Federal Government grant for the game’s Pacific Strategy, which uses rugby league to deliver important programs around health, education and other social issues.
The Hon Julie Bishop, Minister for Foreign Affairs, made the announcement in Townsville today alongside NRL chief executive Dave Smith and Ewen Jones, the Federal Member for Herbert.
They were joined by North Queensland Cowboys players Johnathan Thurston, Ray Thompson, James Tamou and Antonio Winterstein.
The funding announcement adds to a $2.4 million commitment made by the Australian Rugby League Commission towards the Pacific Outreach Program over the next three years.
Mr Smith said sport could be used as an important tool to change lives in PNG, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.
He added the Government’s funding for the Pacific Outreach Program would go towards employing local staff, delivering mentoring programs, education tools, female participation and leadership workshops as well as helping to purchase resources and equipment.
“There are enormous benefits from this funding and I would like to thank the Federal Government for its support of our Pacific Strategy,” Mr Smith said.
“This will help the development of rugby league in these areas and we are giving back to the community with the delivery of health, education, social and community programs.”
With the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 17 people are employed to deliver the highly-successful League Bilong Laif Program in PNG.
“Our Pacific Strategy is designed to change lives across the Pacific. We can use sport as a vehicle to help disadvantaged communities,” Mr Smith said.
“We certainly look forward to working with the Federal Government to ensure we can help as many people as possible through our commitment to the Pacific region.
“The Pacific region has the potential to become a powerhouse in our game.
“We aim to help the region prosper as much as possible, and the Government’s commitment certainly gives us a solid platform to build on.”