NAIDOC Week has drawn to a close and this year the event celebrated the contributions Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have made – and continue to make - to our communities, our families, our rich history and to our nation.
Inspired by the stories of remarkable women and their achievements who were celebrated via the "Because of her, we can!" theme – QRL Media wanted to feature some Indigenous women in league and highlight the great work these women have done to help make this the greatest game of all.
A proud Aboriginal woman from the Mardigan Traditional Owners in South West Queensland, Adams is also the Chief Executive Officer of Goolburri Aboriginal Health Advancement Company based in Toowoomba.
She has served many roles in rugby league – starting as a football mum not only to her sons Trent and Jaydon, but to their team-mates as well.
“I cooked breakfast many mornings to ensure the boys had a hearty meal to get them through the game and a bit of bonding before the game,” she said.
“I was also the ‘football transportofficer’as I rarely missed a game and this happened with home games and travel games, if we didn’t have enough room in my car, I would organise a bus and they would all pile in this ensured the boys got there safely and we knew we would have a team.”
While her love of the game really developed where her boys could play; she was always a fan of the game and enjoyed watching her nephews play.
“I would travel anywhere to watch the boys play; from Charleville to Cunnamulla, Quilpie, Augathella, Roma and then in rep football Chinchilla and Toowoomba. I also played with my daughters in the local ladies competition in circa early 2000,” she said.
“The relationship to the game now hasn’t changed I am a loyal club supporter to Brothers … (and) the Ipswich Jets and I love it when the boys on the field say they can hear me cheering from the sideline when they finish the game and they love it too.”
Adams was recently appointed to the board of the Ipswich Jets; making her the club’s first female board member.
Inspired by this year’s NAIDOC theme ‘Because of her, we can!’ - Adams said she will look to relate this to her roles in rugby league by continuing to provide a valuable contribution to the game.
“I (will) make the effort to travel to games to continually support them and promote rugby league as a great sport for our young males and females and it’s an event for family and community.”
A premiership-winning captain with her Burleigh Bears club; a Queensland Women’s State of Origin representative and ambassador with Deadly Choices – Harden is kept busy with her work as a speech pathologist at the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health.
A former NRL Community Ambassador and Indigenous All Stars Women’s captain; she is a role model to many young girls making their way up in the sport. Talented athlete with a background in volleyball; she was also previously captained the National Indigenous Rugby 7s team.
Her love of rugby league though began when she was introduced to it in 2013 by her friend and mentor Niccy Muller (#becauseofher) who spotted her at a rugby union session one night.
“Muller asked me to play at the Murri Carnival in Ipswich for the Highlanders and I fell in love with the game straight away and have played ever since,” Harden said.
“Muller has been an amazing mentor and friend to have in my career so far and has always encouraged me to pursue my dreams, whether that be in volleyball, rugby union or rugby league.”
This year’s NAIDOC theme really spoke to Harden as someone who has been inspired by the contributions of many other accomplished women in the game and beyond.
“I absolutely love the theme. I think it’s wonderful to honour the many strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women we have in the community, for their achievements, their passion for mob and for the many different hats they wear each and every day (as) mothers and grandmothers, aunties, sisters, carers, coaches, athletes.
“All of us have a connection to a wonderful woman, whether that be a family member or friend, and I think it’s absolutely awesome that I get to recognise the many beautiful women in my family as well.
“(In rugby league) I’ve looked up to players like Tracey Thompson, Lavina O'Mealey, Katrina Fanning and Bo De La Cruz for a long time.
“Strong Indigenous women who paved the way for rugby league and make massive contributions to the sport each and every day. They are amazing people.”
Other inspiring Queensland Indigenous Women in League
Professor Megan Davis
A current member of the Australian Rugby League Commission, Professor Davis is one of the nation’s leading constitutional lawyers. She has had a distinguished international diplomatic career as well as being a champion of Indigenous and women’s rights. She is also a passionate rugby league fan who grew up in country Queensland, where rugby league was at the centre of her community. She is also an entertaining tweeter – always offering a photo and a cheer from whichever NRL game she is attending. Read more about Professor Davis on the NRL website.
A talented rugby league player; schoolgirl Revell-Blair (pictured below) impressed in her Queensland State of Origin debut and will only continue to develop her game. A graduate of the QAS Harvey Norman Emerging Origin program.
Catherine Beaumont: Currently sitting on the QRL’s Indigenous Advisory Committee, Beaumont is a long-time rugby league fan who has spent many years serving in various administrations. She received a 10-year medal for her service to the then Brisbane Second Division Rugby League in 2016.
Jenny Pryor: The former Commissioner with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission for North Queensland, Pryor has run the Townsville All Blacks carnival for 32 years. She is also the Bindal Sharks CEO.
Jodie Elder: A Youth Justice manager, Elder is also the chair of the Redbank Plains Bears club in Ipswich and is a long-time contributor to rugby league in the region.
>>> This Queensland-based list provides only a snapshot into the contributions of a handful of women – so be sure to add your support and offer your thanks in our social media post to other Indigenous women who are making a positive contribution in our game.
>> Find out more about #BecauseOfHerWeCan at the NAIDOC website