This December, Dyldam Parramatta Eels Chairman, Steve Sharp, and Board Members Tanya Gadiel and Peter Serrao joined Blue and Gold community partners and legends of the game for an update from the club’s Indigenous Reference Group at Sydney Olympic Park’s Novotel Hotel.
The Indigenous Reference Group brings together leading figures from the Eels, Western Sydney University and Kari Aboriginal Resources with leaders in the fields of Indigenous culture and psychology to inform and advise Parramatta’s Indigenous programs strategy.
Beginning with an Acknowledgment of Country from Uncle Harry Allie, the evening provided an insight into the Blue and Gold’s Indigenous initiatives, including a commitment to update, refresh and re-focus the club’s Reconciliation Action Plan.
As the first Sydney-based NRL club to introduce a Reconciliation Action Plan, Director Tanya Gadiel explained there must also be a responsibility to actively promote reconciliation in meaningful, practical and culturally appropriate ways.
“This club places inclusiveness among its core values right from the highest level of the business,” Gadiel said.
“If we are to be truly inclusive, then what better way to start than to engage with our First Nations peoples and learn from our Indigenous partners in terms of cultural knowledge and a better understanding of the history of our first peoples?”
“This is part of our shared history and it is through this education process that we will achieve a true and meaningful reconciliation.”
“Key members of staff will be undertaking cultural competency training as part of increasing this knowledge, and our Indigenous Reference Group has already played a significant role in ensuring we develop programs that have cultural authenticity.”
“To have a former great in Steve Ella and current NRL player Luke Kelly as part of this group has already allowed us to commence a program that will help connect and reconnect our players to their culture, and I know that this is a program that has broader community application for male and female Indigenous youth.”
Led by Indigenous psychologist Clinton Schultz, supported by internationally renowned artist, speaker and performer Jeremy Donovan, and overseen by one of Australia’s most respected traditional healers, Uncle Harold Tayley, the Indigenous leadership camp saw nine Eels players travel to the Gold Coast hinterland to experience traditional yarning, cooking and healing ceremonies.
Guests including Hall of Fame legend Steve Ella, NRL representatives, Western Sydney University and Accor staff, and Eels NRL and Under 20s players were also given previews of new scholarship programs set to launch in 2016.
“Beyond rugby league, Western Sydney University, the Accor Hotel Group and the Eels are all committed to providing pathways to education, training and employment,” Gadiel explained.