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Sharks further strengthen relationships with latest RAP launch

In coinciding with today’s National Close the Gap Day, the Sharks have launched their second ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), endorsed by Reconciliation Australia and reflecting the Club’s commitment to develop and strengthen relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Sutherland Shire and beyond. 

Since 2006, Reconciliation Action Plans (RAPs) have enabled organisations to sustainably and strategically take meaningful action to advance reconciliation, with this second Sharks RAP based around the core pillars of relationships, respect and opportunities, while providing tangible and substantive benefits for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increasing economic equity and supporting First Nations self-determination.

Sharks Indigenous Programs Coordinator and Chair of the Sharks RAP Committee, Rachal Allan, previewed the Sharks RAP to an audience of staff from the football department and from the Club’s licensed premises Sharks at Kareela late last week, in pre-empting today’s official launch

“Having an endorsed Reconciliation Action Plan has allowed us to develop a framework that will keep the organisation accountable in continuing to build relationships, trust, and respect across its programs with several initiatives to develop and expand upon our community programs,” Ms Allan said.  

Each type of RAP is designed to suit an organisation at different stages of their reconciliation journey and organisations can repeat the same type of RAP if appropriate, with this second ‘Innovate’ RAP representing the Sharks third endorsed RAP.

The Sharks first ‘Reflect’ RAP, launched in 2017, allowed the Club to scope its capacity for Reconciliation.

Moving to the first ‘Innovate’ RAP in 2019, the Sharks focussed on developing and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, engaging staff and stakeholders in reconciliation, and developing and piloting innovative strategies to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“This second ‘Innovate’ RAP and allows us to gain a deeper understanding of our sphere of influence and to establish the best approach to advance reconciliation,” Ms Allan added.  

The Sharks second ‘Innovate’ RAP reinforces the commitment to:

·       Building and encouraging relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities, organisations, and the broader Australian community. 

·       Fostering and embedding respect for the world’s longest surviving cultures and communities. 

·       Developing opportunities within our organisation to improve socio-economic outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 

Continuing with an ‘Innovate’ RAP allows the Sharks to continue strengthening the club’s knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ cultures and histories.

‘’With the implementation of our new RAP and as leaders in the community, our staff and greater family will continue the journey to help provide opportunities and pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to engage with us and our stakeholders,” Ms Allan continued.

“Rugby League is a fundamental part of life for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their communities. Here at the Sharks, we know that football doesn’t just exist for the 80 minutes of game play – we always have a responsibility to our community.

“Part of that responsibility is to create and extend opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People. We see our Indigenous players as role models and representatives our communities can be proud of.

“Our influence as a club, and the programs we run have the potential to lead positive change to address the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We’d like the community to see us as inclusive, welcoming, and worthy of their trust as we work together in partnership,” Ms Allan said.

Many highlights were achieved as a result of the Sharks first ‘Innovate’ RAP, launched in 2018, including;  

·       Strengthening of relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and community members including SESLHD Aboriginal Health Unit, Kurranulla Aboriginal Corporation, Endeavour Sport High School Clontarf Academy and Kirinari Aboriginal Hostel.

·       The success of the NRL Indigenous Round as a regional game in Coffs Harbour where the Sharks developed new relationships with Galambila Aboriginal Health Service, Wajaar Ngaarlu Gumbaynggirr Indigenous dance troupe and Orara High School Clontarf Academy -who received a brand-new trailer from major sponsor Aramex to use for cultural camps and activities. During this round Sharks jersey partner Zambrero gave up their back of jersey branding to ‘One Disease’ an organisation aiming to eliminate the disease crusted scabies, from Australia’s remote Indigenous communities. Jersey sponsor, Southern Comfort, also gave up their back of jersey spot to be respectful of the stigma associated with First Nations communities in relation to alcohol. These actions showed sponsor commitment to the RAPs core pillars of respect and opportunities, and the ongoing work in education and wellbeing.

·       Securing a further 12-month grant through Central Eastern Primary Health Network’s Aboriginal Health and Wellbeing Unit to continue our partnership with Deadly Choices (Indigenous Urban Health Institute). The continued success and partnership with the Deadly Choices allows the Sharks to continue to support a full-time Indigenous Program Coordinator to deliver programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make positive health decisions in directing them to the necessary health services to fit their needs.

·       Four students engaged in the Sharks School2Work program attended the annual NRL-hosted Indigenous Youth Leadership Summit, which in 2021 brought together 64 Year 11 students aspiring to be young leaders in their respective communities.

·       Online Yarning Circles providing students with the opportunity to meet, listen to and interact with positive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander role models, including Nicho Hynes and Jesse Ramien, in ensuring students remain connected to culture, focus on their aspirations, and stay motivated to stay in school to complete their high school education

“I am very proud of the commitment of the organisation to achieving our RAP objectives over the past two years,” Sharks CEO Dino Mezzatesta said. “Reconciliation is a priority for our Management and Board, and we are dedicated to strengthening our own knowledge of, and relationships with, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Shire.

“The Sharks Reconciliation Action Plan is a collaborative effort and reflects a shared desire to work towards reconciliation.  I would like to thank the RAP Working Group and in particular Rachal Allan our Indigenous programs Coordinator for overseeing the development of our plan. Together they have developed a sophisticated plan, one which will guide our work over the next two years,” Mezzatesta concluded.

See following a link to the Sharks 2022 ‘Innovative’ RAP – CLICK HERE

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.