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In the know with Nos: Respect within the game

Rugby league is a game that should be open and welcoming.

It’s certainly something we pride ourselves on and for us at the Queensland Rugby League and the next month is going to be a real opportunity to showcase those attributes.

We have a huge couple of weeks coming up.

Probably the biggest period for this acknowledgement of diversity and inclusion within our game will start with the Respectful Behaviours Round of the Hostplus Cup on May 21-22.

It’s an important round and one that requires a lot of reflection.

Simply - and as a starting point - it’s just about respecting other people in our game. When we go to a game in that round, we need to show respect to teammates, opposition players, referees... anyone who is around us.

We want everyone to come to rugby league, to enjoy their experience and feel safe within the game.

From there what we hope to see is people not only doing that at a rugby league field but taking those actions and thoughts home with them and using these “respectful behaviours” beyond this round.

Like I said, it’s a starting point but absolutely an important thing to acknowledge.

Respectful Behaviours Round will then flow into National Reconciliation Week, which this year focuses on the theme of “be brave, make change”, which is a challenge to all Australians to tackle the unfinished business of reconciliation.

This is always an extremely significant time, not just within rugby league, but across the nation.

And this year Reconciliation Week will also have a major focus on the 30th anniversary of the High Court’s Mabo decision, which recognised the pre-colonial land interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples within Australia's common law and overturned the legal myth of terra nullius.

I want to encourage all people of our game to participate in Reconciliation Week, to make sure they involve themselves in celebrations and events.

Clubs always tend to celebrate this week in their own way across the state – we see different cultural events, barbecues, reconciliation events, marches, and more.

If something is going on at your club or community this year around inclusivity and diversity, get involved in it.

The QRL is on a reconciliation journey and National Reconciliation Week is a part of the game recognising this.

One of the biggest things I am working on at the moment to ensure more inclusivity is our Infrastructure Plan.

The QRL is developing an infrastructure plan that will aim to provide facility enhancement opportunities across the state and allow our game to grow with fit and purposeful infrastructure that not only brings more people to our game but gives them good experiences once they’re here.

There’s been a fairly extensive internal and external consultation process around this, involving government, Hostplus Cup clubs, boards, QRL team members and leadership teams, and more, but it is done with the view of getting what we need across the state.

One of the areas I hope this helps with most is our female retention.

We’ve had four workshops already this year around our female strategy space, working with a number of stakeholders to gauge what is needed in our game.

The next step the QRL will take is to do some further consultation internally and Hostplus Cup clubs so that we can collate several ideas to draft an innovative strategy that is going to take us forward.

With the female game, we have more players than we’ve ever had before.

But the challenge within this space is retaining players.

The female retention rate has always been less than that of the males and we are working to close this gap through new ways of doing things. As a game we need to do more to create an environment that girls and women want to stay in.

We have to keep trying new things and when it comes to facilities, that’s one way we can work towards making the game better for everyone.

We can create infrastructure that makes females feel safe and facilities that are friendly to their needs and provide inclusivity.

All of this work we’re doing – Respectful Behaviours, improved pathways, improved facilities – it’s about attracting and retaining the people in our game and making sure we continue to come together and grow.

Main image: Rugby league event from 2021 Reconciliation Week in Yarrabah.

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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