The Sharks are set to launch a new Indigenous program in building on their relationship with respected health and well-being organisation Deadly Choices.
The two came together last year in piloting an /Indigenous health program throughout schools in the local Sutherland Shire area and with the success of the original partnership and with the support of the Primary Health Network, have agreed to inject extra resources in the form of a dedicated Indigenous Programs Coordinator.
In scanning through a long list of highly qualified applicants, the Sharks and Deadly Choices landed on Quirindi-born, Tamworth-raised Rachal Allan, an Indigenous girl from the Gamilaroi mob, to head up the new program.
Previously employed as an Aboriginal Medical Service (AMS) worker in Wellington in northern NSW and then more recently working in a similar role in Wollongong, George Nour, the Sharks General Manager – Community, People & Culture, was confident Allan was the perfect fit to make a success of the joint Sharks-Deadly Choices Indigenous schools program.
“On the back of the program we piloted last year, that gave Deadly Choices confidence to expand and spread their involvement with the Sharks by funding a full-time resource in Rachal,” Nour said. “Rachal has an extensive background in this space and was a standout candidate to drive this program and we look forward to having her on board.”
Allan, who starts with the Sharks in mid-August, was keen to get started and to try to make an impact in respect to helping to educate student with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island heritage on healthy lifestyles.
“I was five years working for the AMS in Wollongong as an aboriginal health worker but what I really love is the health presentation side, getting out into the community, doing the health checks, day in and day out,” Allan said.
“I thought it was time for a change and this job was all the things I love doing.
“I grew up watching footy, always loved the footy, so when I heard this position was with Deadly Choices as well, I was very excited I could be a part of it,” Allan added.
As a part of her role, Allan will be presenting health promotion, encouraging Aboriginal students to take the 715-health check, while liaising with local elders, schools and related services in and around the Sutherland Shire community.
“I’ll go into Endeavour High School and work alongside the Clontarf Foundation in term four, so before that I’ve got term three to get in and to get myself sorted. I’ll be reaching out to everyone, trying to get everywhere,” Allan explained.
With the program enjoying the backing of Deadly Choices, who are involved with Queensland NRL clubs and numerous NRL initiatives, Allan has no doubt she will be able to make a difference amongst the local Indigenous youth.
“Because Deadly Choices pair up with the NRL, they are so well known in the Aboriginal community. Deadly Choices sponsor the jerseys, the aboriginal knockouts and because Aboriginal kids love footy or want to play footy, the pairing is perfect for us to be able to get through to the kids,” Allan said.
The appointment of Ms Allan came on the eve of the Sharks Indigenous Round clash against the Brisbane Broncos, with the team posing for a pre-captain’s run photo before training in the black Deadly Choices t-shirt, each personally printed with player names.
Blue Deadly Choices t-shirts are given to those Indigenous students who undertake the Health and Wellbeing School Program, while the black shirts are redeemed upon a 715 Health Check at participating AMS clinics.
Sharks Indigenous players Jesse Ramien, Will Kennedy, Wade Graham and Braydon Trindall are expected to be a part of the squad to tackle the Broncos later tonight. Andrew Fifita is unfortunately sidelined with injury and will be unable to play tonight’s match.
Allan (lead photo) begins her role at the Sharks on August 17.