Members of the elite Australian Kangaroos Rugby League 2017 World Cup squad will headline the expansion of a successful grassroots campaign to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.
Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM, said legendary Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and other Indigenous and non-indigenous players would become ambassadors for the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s Deadly Choices program, to extend its reach across Australia.
“Deadly Choices is what I like to call a ‘jewel in the crown’ of Indigenous health, achieving some stunning results since it kicked off in South East Queensland four years ago,” the Minister said.
“The Deadly Kangaroos is an expansion of this program, using the star power of the ambassadors and the excitement of this year’s World Cup to reach more even communities.”
Deadly Choices is a community-based health lifestyle campaign launched in 2013.
There is particular focus on young people and the importance of exercise, education, school attendance, quitting smoking and regular preventive health checks.
Through media campaigns, sports carnivals and community events it has prompted:
Almost 19,000 annual health checkups in South East Queensland
Active patient numbers to triple to over 330,000
1,155 smoke-free household pledges
More than 3,300 smoker interventions
“I encourage everyone to support Australia in the World Cup in October, just as the Kangaroos are supporting better health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and all Australians.”
The ambassadors will make appearances at game day events as the Australian team travels through the ACT, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and regional Queensland for the World Cup.
“Key ambassadors for the Deadly Kangaroos are Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis,” the Minister said. “Also, the best three players from the national men’s and women’s teams at the Arthur Beetson Deadly Choices Murri Rugby League carnival will also be chosen as community ambassadors to promote positive health messages.
The Rugby League World Cup runs from 26 October – 2 December 2017.