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ARU reports its Reconciliation Action Plan progress

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After launching its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) during National Reconciliation Week in 2016 to commit to increasing Indigenous engagement in rugby, the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) has published its progress in the ARU Reconciliation Action Plan Progress Report.

The Australian Rugby Union’s (ARU) vision for reconciliation is to engage and work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to foster positive relationships, promote healthy lifestyles and create genuine opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples through rugby. 

As outlined in the ARU’s RAP, the priority for 2016-2017 was to establish and roll out Deadly7s, Australian Rugby’s first ever Indigenous Rugby program for primary school students. Deadly7s is designed to provide Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander primary school students across Australia with their first taste of rugby, whilst also educating them about the importance of education and healthy lifestyles.

The program material was developed in partnership with Aboriginal educators and community members and aligns directly with the current primary school PDHPE syllabus. Over two terms in 2016, 2,426 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students participated in the Deadly7s program including boys and girls from remote areas such as the APY Lands in South Australia and Cooktown in Far North Queensland. In total over 5,074 primary school aged boys and girls (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) participated in the program in 2016. The numbers significantly exceeded the ARU’s own target of 400 Indigenous participants by year end.

In the major RAP pillars of ‘Relationships’, ‘Respect’ and ‘Opportunities’, Australian Rugby is tracking well and has largely achieved its targets. In 2017-2018, the ARU will focus on increasing pathway opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, employment opportunities and building on the Indigenous Strategy that has been developed over the past twelve months.

Australian Rugby’s commitment to deliver the RAP is underpinned by the organisation’s vision “to inspire all Australians to enjoy our great global game” by making rugby a game for all.

Accordingly, in 2016, Australian Rugby’s engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities was much more visible. Examples of this include the Welcome to Country ceremonies at all home Qantas Wallabies Test matches and the redesign of the HSBC Sydney7s trophy by an Aboriginal-owned and operated manufacturer.

ARU CEO Bill Pulver said: “In our RAP, we set ambitious targets focused on making progress in three key areas: improving relationships, building respect and creating opportunities. We are committed to making rugby more accessible to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and are delighted with the progress that we’ve made to date.”

“While we still have much more to do I am proud of the progress Australian Rugby has made. As a national organisation, we have a great responsibility to be involved in Australia’s journey towards reconciliation. I am pleased to be renewing our RAP commitments for the rest of 2017 and beyond.”

For a copy of the Reconciliation Action Plan, please click here. For a copy of the Reconciliation Action Plan Progress Report, please click here.