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By VicRugby Media
A new program that harnesses Victorian rugby to develop employment opportunities for young Aboriginal people across the State, was yesterday launched by Minister for Employment and Trade Louise Asher.
The Access Rugby Aboriginal Employment Program will be delivered by the Victorian Rugby Union (VRU) in the local government regions of Greater Dandenong/Casey and the Rural Cities of Mildura, Swan Hill-Robinvale.
Speaking at AAMI Park, Ms Asher said the program aimed to deliver a minimum of 45 jobs in these communities for Aboriginal people while also developing opportunities for young people to improve their lives and future.
The VRU will help establish Community Clubs in these regions to bring business and the community together to create sustainable employment, mentoring and support for
Aboriginal people,” Ms Asher said.
The VRU and the RaboDirect Melbourne Rebels will also appoint three locally based employment brokers to identify job opportunities for young Aboriginal people among the Victorian Rugby Union Club’s sponsors, members, support groups and suppliers.
“The wholehearted commitment and involvement of Victoria’s Rugby community is central to the success of this new program.
“Sport is one of our key community bonds, offers a sense of achievement, belonging and focus, enhances health and provides role models and aspirational pathways for young
“This is particularly true for Rugby Union, a code based on strong traditional values such as respect and teamwork – and one that is passionately supported by the young people that
are the target of this program,” Ms Asher said.
The VRU has a long history of supporting and mentoring young people and provides business networks and strong partnerships with Victoria Police, government and community
organisations and with schools and tertiary institutions.
“The Access Rugby program will involve professional coaches and mentors, including Victoria’s Super 15 Rugby Club, the Melbourne Rebels and the Access Rugby Ambassadors, Cooper Vuna, Gareth Delve and Stirling Mortlock.”
Ms Asher said the Victorian Coalition Government was working to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Victorians through its Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Framework.
“One of the most fundamental ways we can tackle disadvantage and close the gap for Victorian Aboriginals is through increased economic participation and development,” Ms Asher said.
“The Access Rugby Aboriginal Employment Program is a unique opportunity for a major international sporting code to lead the way in creating new employment opportunities for Aboriginal Victorians by leveraging its people, networks, partnerships and its standing in the community.”
Victorian Rugby Union CEO, Mr. Ross Oakley said, “What is so pleasing about the Access Rugby Aboriginal Employment Project, is the speed at which our team has been able to activate the program.
“Already we have secured a number of sponsors; including the Mildura based Northern Alliance Training Services and Westfield Fountain Gate. The Robinvale-Euston Rugby Union Club has been established and it is currently undertaking partnership discussions to create a community hub in the region. Most importantly the program has also achieved seven employment and two return to school outcomes.
“Of particular importance is the project’s partnership with the Victoria Police. We have been fortunate to work with a number of outstanding members of the force. They are truly committed to working with us to ensure that this program makes a real difference to people’s lives.
“Fundamental to this initiative, has been the significant support and funding provided by the Victorian Government. The executive and staff of the Department of State Development, Business and Innovation have demonstrated great enthusiasm and professionalism in their collaboration with the Victorian Rugby Union.”
Melbourne Rebels CEO, Mr. Rob Clarke said, “This program, brought together by the Victorian Government and Victorian Rugby Union, with the strong support of the Victoria Police, demonstrates national leadership in the important area of linking sport to tangible and positive community outcomes. The Access Rugby program stands above and beyond anything of its type that I have experienced in rugby.
“The project has numerous benefits, not only for the community, but also for the Melbourne Rebel’s player group and our Club. Our players will have an essential role in helping to enhance communities in the identified regions. Through this work, the players will also grow and learn important life skills.
“In essence, this program represents exactly what our Rebel Pledge stands for.”