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Mount Isa shines light on Domestic and Family Violence Prevention

Rugby league can provide a platform for many important conversations and causes.

And that is certainly what Mount Isa Rugby League is hoping to achieve tonight, Friday, May 27, when they use Round 5 of their City Country competition to support Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.

In conjunction with Queensland Police Service and the Queensland Rugby League’s Support Squad, this will be the first time the City versus Country matches are used to raise awareness around domestic violence.

Nigel Tremain, co-ordinator of City Country, said while domestic and family violence was a widespread societal issue, sports of all kinds could help share messaging around these matters.

Tremain said he was initially looking at doing a mental health and wellbeing-focused night, particularly with the league’s Support Squad volunteers, but then more conversation saw it become combined with the domestic and family violence cause - and it comes one week after the QRL's Respect Round.

Respect Round: ‘All of us, together’

“We’re trying to encourage everyone in the community to turn up,” Tremain said.

“It shows that it doesn’t matter what walk of life you're from or who you are in the community, rugby league brings everyone together.

“It’s important that when you hold these events, you try to get as many people out there as you can and engage as many people as possible… instead of hiding it, let’s bring it out and deal with these issues in the community.

“Through the culture and coaching at City Country, we don’t tolerate any violence at all. You can watch any game for the last three years and there’s no violence.

“You can play a contact sport and play hard, but play with respect and a good spirit. That sends a message on its own.”

The evening will kick off at 5.30pm with the under 15s and under 17s boys and girls to play throughout the night.

There will be competitions such as sprint races and “catch the bomb” activities, with prizes, meat trays and City Country apparel available throughout the night.

Those who attend are encouraged to wear purple, which is the colour of the awareness campaign, while the players will also wear purple socks, donated by Zonta and Whateva Sports in Mount Isa.

Support Squad members will be walking around to engage with players and community members as well, while Headspace will have a coffee van and an open door policy for anyone who wants to talk.

Acting sergeant Dean Hanrahan – who is also the district’s Domestic and Family Violence coordinator – will also address the crowd and players.

Hanrahan said northwest Queensland experiences around five times the state average of domestic violence-related issues and complaints, with “significant challenges” around domestic violence-related crime being committed by people under the age of 18.

He said it is the worst in the state and the QPS are on a blitz across sporting clubs to help spread awareness.

“Sport is just such a key part of Australian life,” Hanrahan said.

“It’s an ideal platform and a widespread vehicle for us to communicate with the community more broadly. We see it as the perfect opportunity.

“This sort of event ties in with our community messaging and community awareness. Not only are we informing people around what domestic violence is but we’re creating a sense of ownership. A change in community culture can help lead the way out of this problem.”

QRL’s northern wellbeing operations manager Dave Sheridan will be in attendance, as will Albert Anderson and Denise Weier from the NRL.

QRL state strategy manager Scott Nosworthy praised the Mount Isa Rugby League for bringing light to the social issues, but also the City Country concept for continuing to go from strength to strength after it’s introduction in 2020.

“The City Country concept was an initiative from a small group in Mount Isa led by Nigel Tremain who saw that the game needed something new to keep it alive in the west,” Nosworthy said.

“This was supported by the QRL through funding from the Northern Region and with the inception of the RISE Program, it has not only kept the game alive but it has rejuvenated the junior game in the area with a nearly six per cent increase in player numbers from 2021 and the highest number of players in the area since 2017.

“But we all know rugby league is more than what happens on the field and these initiatives help bring light to social issues and the need for positive change can only be of benefit to the community in the long term.”

Round 5 of the City Country will be played at the Mount Isa Rugby Union grounds.

Main image: Nigel Tremain, the coordinator of City Country in Mount Isa. Photo: Sarah Bax/QRL

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