The NSWRL has announced an extension of its partnership with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s (IUIH) Deadly Choices program for another year, which plans to perform more than 5000 free health checks on Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders in 2022.

The extension was announced today at Ignite HQ Centre of Excellence by NSWRL Chief Executive David Trodden and IUIH Deadly Choices ambassador Steve Renouf.

Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler, True Blues Luke Lewis, Willie Mason and Jamie Soward, Harvey Norman NSW Sky Blues Corban Baxter and Sarah Togatuki, NSWRL Officiating Development Officer Gavin Badger and NSWRL ambassador Reni Maitua were also in attendance.

“Our partnership with Deadly Choices has the ability, through the Deadly Blues program, to deliver tangible benefits by aiming to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families,” Trodden said.

“There are no downsides if the NSWRL can use the power of our brand and the game of Rugby League as a tool to help promote a positive outcome for the Indigenous community in contributing to ‘close the gap’ in Indigenous Health outcomes in any way.

“The game would not be as strong without involvement from the Indigenous community and we are grateful for the support and commitment which we will be celebrating and acknowledging through the game-wide Indigenous Round next week.”

IUIH Chief Executive Adrian Carson said the Deadly Blues campaign was having a positive impact across Indigenous communities.

“Obviously, Rugby League is extremely popular among all our communities, and we celebrate the successes of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players who in turn become great role models for what they do on the field, but even more importantly what they can do off it,” Carson said. 

“10 years of Deadly Choices and I think the evidence is in that you can partner with sport successfully, when sport partners with community, and that’s exactly what the Deadly Blues has shown across the first three years of this partnership.”

There is further incentive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to book in for free health checks with all participants to go in the running to win an all-expenses paid trip to watch the Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues in Game One of the Ampol State of Origin series at Accor Stadium on 8 June.

The NSW Health Services participating in the program include Bulgarr Ngaru, Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service, Maari Ma and Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service, Durri Aboriginal Corporation Medical Service, Galambila Aboriginal Health Service and Biripi Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre.

“The Indigenous community has always played an important role in Rugby League and I back any program that encourages a healthy lifestyle,” Fittler said.

“The Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues follow principles around good health, including diet, sleeping, staying hydrated and breathing, which has helped our players achieve their best and played a large part in our recent success.”

The Deadly Blues health campaign was launched in conjunction with Deadly Choices in 2019 with the aim of encouraging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to receive regular medical check-ups and improve their health. Since the program launch there has been more than 15,000 free health checks performed on Indigenous and Torres Strait Islanders.

The campaign, which also involves NRL clubs and other elite sports, is being run by the IUIH and has been backed by the Federal Government.

The initiative sees Indigenous people receive a free NSWRL-inspired shirt when they attend any of the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services for a full health assessment and to receive preventative health messages.

The Deadly Blues program aims to target chronic disease, nutrition, physical activity and smoking which can have a negative impact on Indigenous communities. The NSWRL expanded the campaign in 2020 to include a healthy cooking and eating program which was endorsed by current Brydens Lawyers NSW Blues players and True Blues.

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