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Wellbeing Wednesday with Grant Bignell - Reaching out

The biggest focus for the Queensland Rugby League wellbeing team in 2022 is to make sure our communities know they can reach out to us.

As the state wellbeing manager, myself and my team have a number of goals we set for ourselves throughout the year.

But the key theme this year is to build our profile across the state to make sure we have the best possible reach and exposure for our people.

We want the rugby league communities to know they can reach out to us – we want to be proactive, to deliver educational and preventative messages, and to be there for people from the get-go.

Our three wellbeing managers - Dayne Weston (QRL South East), Ryan Charles (QRL Central) and Dave Sheridan (QRL North) – are already hard at work on implementing our three new programs to clubs and communities across the state.

Bryce Holdsworth (former central wellbeing manager and current Wide Bay area manager), Grant Bignell (state wellbeing manager), Dave Sheridan (north wellbeing manager) and Dayne Weston (south east wellbeing manager).
Bryce Holdsworth (former central wellbeing manager and current Wide Bay area manager), Grant Bignell (state wellbeing manager), Dave Sheridan (north wellbeing manager) and Dayne Weston (south east wellbeing manager).

For Dayne, his Support Squad program is already up and running.

He launched it towards the back end of last year, with 36 volunteers registering straight off the bat to help within community rugby league.

We’ve had another 45 sign up for a second intake and the feedback so far has been really positive.

The volunteers from that first group are all really starting to work out their sense of purpose in their club, where they fit in and how they can help.

We’re not changing the world with this, but if we can change a few kids’ experiences from a stressful one to a positive one, then that’s a good thing.

We’re trying to encourage a help-seeking behaviour through this program so that if these players get to a semi-professional or professional level in the game, it’s already a learnt thing to be honest and open and engaged instead of hesitant and scared.

Referees wearing the Support Squad emblem on their jerseys. Photo: Bryce Holdsworth
Referees wearing the Support Squad emblem on their jerseys. Photo: Bryce Holdsworth

Secondly this year, Dave is introducing a new program called GRIP – Gratitude, Resilience, Intent and Pride.

Dave has designed this to be aimed towards the remote Indigenous communities in the northern part of the state and will go over to the Torres Strait Islands to do a couple of camps very soon.

It’s a two-to-three trip program, with each one building on the session before.

The goal is to help the communities build connection with themselves and their own identity.

A lot of these remote regions don’t get rugby league every weekend or training twice a week like kids in other areas.

It’s the small things that other people take for granted.

These kids in remote regions only get together two-to-three times a year for a gala day for example.

They don’t get to build that camaraderie and have that ongoing connection and that’s what Dave is hoping to help with.

Ninety-five per cent of this program will be on-field activity. It’s not a “sit in the classroom and listen” program. It’s about showing the kids that learning and understanding can come with fun and a sense of adventure.

North wellbeing operations manager Dave Sheridan working with kids at Redcliffe.
North wellbeing operations manager Dave Sheridan working with kids at Redcliffe.

Finally, we have our new Positive Behaviours program, which will be the one we deliver most across the state.

Ryan is already spearheading the work with this one, recently taking it to a gala day in Kingaroy.

It covers behaviour on the field, in the classroom and at home, as well as attitudes towards habit forming, relationship building, social media, and more.

It’s about how we identify negative thoughts and being able to label them and reframe them as quick as we can, as well as learning about the impact that our positive behaviours can have on someone as opposed to the negative behaviours.

There’s so many different ways for this to be impactful.

It’s really focused on the things we value within Queensland Rugby League and the things we see as important to the rugby league community.

Central wellbeing operations manager Ryan Charles working with kids at Redcliffe.
Central wellbeing operations manager Ryan Charles working with kids at Redcliffe.

We were able to test some of these programs on kids recently when we as a team came together at Redcliffe to discuss the year ahead.

The Dolphins gave us some kids to do trials with and it gave us a lot of confidence in what we’re doing.

Now it’s about getting it out there and really spreading the word.

Acknowledgement of Country

Queensland Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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