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QRL Conference: 'Strong past, bright future'

Queensland Rugby League, determined to build on its strong foundation, brought its 100 staff together for the annual QRL Conference at the Sunshine Coast.

The conference - themed 'Strong past, bright future' - saw everyone from QRL North, QRL Central and QRL South East come together to learn, strategize for the future and celebrate 2022 wins. 

Queensland Rugby League people and capability general manager Gemma Davidson said the aim was to bring people together and learn.

"We took a bit of a different approach this year, where it was less internal and more externally focused and it was about challenging minds, opening minds... more of an educational feel, professional development, personal development feel," Davidson said.

Discussions included what needs to happen to ensure rugby league is 'a game for everyone', innovation, accessibility, as well as pathways and participation. 

Mabuyag Dancers and Uncle Lance welcomed everyone through a cultural performance and welcome to country before tribal elder Uncle Gabriel Bani spoke about the importance of cultural awareness. 

There were several strategic sessions, including Performance Lab's Tony Wilson taking staff through what it takes to be a high-performing team and QRL's future game plan.

QRL Corporate Social Responsibility Committee member Jason Garrick and Paralympian Karni Liddell spoke about inclusion and diversity, and ALIVE and Get Real Institute founder Tamsyn Rose ran a session on the importance of wellbeing.

"There's a really strong foundation within the QRL in terms of history and workforce, but we also have some amazing new recruits who have joined us during the past 12 months who experienced conference for the first time," Davidson said.

"The idea was to, not only bring everyone together so they could spend the time together - especially our regional staff - bring them down, but challenge them with new ideas and new focuses we see in the world and society that impact our game and will only impact more so in the future.

"I think 2023 is looking seriously bright on the back of conference. Bright in terms of an evolving workforce, changing workforce.

"We continue to have a really strong foundation, but we are seeing new people come in with new ideas and we're also seeing a shift in what is expected in our game from a CSR perspective in particular.

"A massive thank you to our workforce. It was a big, big year. It was pretty special."

QRL recognised stand-out performers at its Hollywood-themed awards night at the end of conference; nominees were subject to a panel of peer judges before the Senior Leadership Team picked the winners. 

Each award winner was recognised with a monetary prize, but was also asked to nominate a charity important to them to donate $250. 

QRL award winners

Best new talent - 'On field'

Central wellbeing operations manager Ryan Charles, donating $250 to Beyond Blue 

Best new talent - 'In the sheds'

Community content producer Rikki-Lee Arnold, donating $250 to Share the Dignity

Hall of Fame - 'On the field'

Mackay area manager Jade Johnson, donating $250 to Cystic Fibrosis Australia

Hall of Fame - 'In the sheds'

Senior accountant Aidan Wade, donating $250 to Project Yumi

Coach of the Year

Acting community rugby league and competitions general manager Adam Vanzanten, donating $250 to Movember Foundation

Scrum of champions

The team responsible for the Positive Environment Program, led by David Knight and Adam Vanzanten

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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