In 2021 the Central North PD Youth Program has been making a difference in its local communities through strong connections to Rugby League.
In April the focus was on bringing the NRL's Voice Against Violence program to schools within the region, and more recently - just before Greater Sydney's Covid resurgence took hold - a partnership with Bourke High School saw a group of students take part in the Penrith Panthers 'Sticks to Stadium' program.
Voice Against Violence
Former Canberra Raiders captain and representative Rugby League player Alan Tongue has been the face of the NRL Voice against Violence program, which is directed at raising awareness of and preventing violence against women and children.
Between 21-23 April this year he took the message to schools at Nyngan, Cobar, Bourke, Brewarrina, Lightning Ridge, Walgett and Collarenebri.
Born and raised in Tamworth, Alan understands the impact and influence sport can have in young lives, and especially in the lives of country kids.
“I don’t believe we have the complete answer but are part of a jigsaw of different programs and education across a community,” Alan says. He believes the program is getting results and is making steps forward in changing thinking patterns and behaviors of young people.
“Sport has the power to bring communities together and we want to harness that for good. By teaching respect and challenging attitudes, behaviours and social norms that can contribute to domestic violence, we can break that cycle and inspire positive action".
Sessions provide students with insights into what violence is, the different forms it takes, the wide-reaching consequences of violence and why it occurs. Students who show interest in the program are being encouraged to attend school and display good behaviour in order to secure a spot.
Alan: “We want to create a standard of behaviour and culture around respect towards women and we also want young kids to feel confident enough to stand up and speak out against violence.”
Detective Inspector Paul Quigg is a driving force behind this activity in the Central North PD. He says the feedback from schools already having experienced the program has been exceptional. “Comments like ‘this is the best program I have ever seen rolled out’ coming from a principal of very high regard, is an indication of the depth of impact this program is having locally".
Sticks to Stadium trip
The Sticks to Stadium trip in June featured a tour of the Panthers Rugby League Academy, Indigenous cultural experiences at Muru Mittigar, Indigenous health workshops, attending the NRL game between the Penrith Panthers and Sydney Roosters and being allowed within the inner sanctum on game day.
The Penrith Panthers Rugby League Club has been proudly supporting the Central North PD Youth Program for the past two years. Positive social and cultural experiences can be transformative for the school children who make the journey to the Penrith Panthers Rugby League Academy and learn what it takes to be a NRL player under the Penrith Panthers Rugby League program.
After arriving at the Penrith Panthers Rugby League Academy, the students met former NRL player, Glen Liddiard, who is the Penrith Panthers Aboriginal & Indigenous Welfare officer. Glen spoke to the boys about the importance of attending school and obtaining a good education, making the right choices in life, and being a good role model on and off the field.
They also went to the NSW Rugby League Centre of Excellence at Sydney Olympic Park with a tour of the facility by former NRL referee, Gavin Badger. Gavin is a proud Indigenous man and he took time out to conduct a motivational talk to the school students. He spoke about his life growing up in the tough area of Redfern and having the right mentors as a young man. Influenced by that mentorship he later went on to referee over 300 NRL first grade games, as well as fixtures all over the world.
Paul Quigg paid special thanks for the success of the trip to Glen Liddiard, Diane Langmack OAM, Mariah Broadbridge and Tiffany Serra from the Penrith Panthers Rugby League club, Chief Executive of the NSW Rugby League, David Trodden, Kristian Heffernan and Gavin Badger from the NSW Rugby League, Dane Parnaby and Simon David from Bourke High School and Senior Constable Katie Hitchman, Youth Liaison Officer, Constable Gavin Campbell from the Bourke PCYC and Aboriginal Community Liaison Officer, Michael Jackson.