PM's XIII teams encouraging respect towards women in PNG

One of the main themes of 2018 has been women in rugby league and that was further illustrated when the Jillaroos, for the first time, helped deliver the message of "strong men respect women" at the recent Prime Minister's XIII campaign in Papua New Guinea.

The Australian Prime Minister's XIII team have helped spread the message in Papua New Guinea in recent years, displaying "Strong Men Respect Women" on their jerseys since 2015. Both the men's and women's teams displayed the message on their jerseys this year.

NRL head of government and community relations Jaymes Boland-Rudder said with the women's State of Origin and premiership competition kicking off this year, it was only fitting that they were also acknowledged with a clash against Papua New Guinea's women's team. 

"The NRL has been lucky enough to have a long-term partnership with the Australia Government and the Papua New Guinea Government to enable us to align the Prime Minister's XIII match to delivering important messages about the prevent of domestic violence and gender equality," Jaymes Boland-Rudder said.

"For another year that really came to life through the jersey's carrying the message 'strong men respect women'.

"Also for the first time having the Jillaroos recognised as the Prime Minister's XIII, it was a momentous occasion and one where we are actually practising what we preach and seeing it lived out in terms of our men and women being recognised on the same footing."

Members of the Australian women's Prime Minister's XIII team.
Members of the Australian women's Prime Minister's XIII team. ©Nathan Hopkins/NRL Photos

During their stay in Papua New Guinea the Australian men's and women's teams took part in one of NRL's Voice Against Violence workshops led by Community Program Deliverer Alan Tongue – with players also involved in another session that was delivered to a local rugby league club, Malipin Brothers.

The former Canberra Raiders skipper said throughout the whole campaign both sides embraced the role of discussing and spreading the message of respectful relationships.

"The one thing that binds us all together is that passion for rugby league," Tongue said.

"We're not pointing the finger at rugby league players saying you are the problem, we're saying that our players can be the driver of change and leaders in this space not only with their football clubs but in their greater community.

"And to the absolute credit of the players and the coaching staff when they would speak to anyone they would talk their football but always bring it back to the message of having respect women.

"I'm so grateful that the teams bought into it and share that because it had a huge impact - I'm hoping this may lead to doing more workshop within our NRL playing groups in the future after seeing their impact."

The anti-violence program is currently being delivered in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and most recently Tonga.

Boland-Rudder said with the success the NRL's Community team has had delivering the program across those countries, they were eager to expand the program's reach to Samoa and New Zealand.

"The feedback that the program has received has been really positive," Boland-Rudder said.

"As a result we hope to be able to continue that partnership with the Australian Government to broaden our reach to Samoa in the coming years, and also work with the New Zealand Warriors and New Zealand rugby league to see if we can utilise our program there as well."