Katungul Aboriginal Corporation have joined forces with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Brisbane (IUHI) to deliver the Deadly Choices program on the South East Coast of NSW.
Rugby league legend Steve Renouf announced the partnership at a community event in Narooma on Saturday, November 4.
Current Canberra Raiders players Jack Wighton and Aidan Sezer also attended the event at NATA Oval.
The partnership expands the delivery of Deadly Choices across Australia, representing an ongoing commitment by community controlled health organisations to Close the Gap in Indigenous life expectancy.
Deadly Choices is a community-based healthy lifestyle campaign launched in 2013. It has a particular focus on young people, as well as the importance of exercise, education, school attendance, quitting smoking, and regular preventive health checks.
Renouf said the partnership with Katungul was an important part of Deadly Choices’ aim to spread its indigenous health message across Australia.
“The big thing for Deadly Choices is we get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who historically weren’t getting their health check to get them,” he said.
“We’ve launched a partnership with the Kangaroos and the Rugby League World Cup. We were in Canberra on Friday Night, and we launched a week ago in Melbourne with the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service down there.”
Robert Skeen, CEO of Katungul, said the partnership was an achievement born from months of planning.
"We are really excited to partner with Deadly Choices to further expand the program and the benefits it provides to community,” he said.
“We’re empowering our community to make Deadly Choices, by getting their health checked and spreading the message that prevention is better than cure.”
Wighton and Sezer, both of an indigenous background, helped promote the new partnership, with Wighton stressing the importance of such events.
“I love coming out to these things,” he said. “Helping our people is a big thing, and these events are giving a rise to people getting healthy.”
Sezer also sees the importance in community events, and thinks the pathway to health is often a mindset.
“You can see from the turnout how much the indigenous community appreciates the fact that Deadly Choices have provided this day for them to enjoy,” he said.
“I think it (staying healthy) is more about people keeping a good mind-frame, and taking days like this as a blessing to come down and enjoy it.”
In September, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt AM announced that legendary Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous players would become ambassadors for the Deadly Choices program.
Community members who get their 715 Health Check at a participating Aboriginal Medical Service – such as Katungul – during the World Cup can score a special edition Deadly Kangaroos World Cup jersey.