The NRL is creating an inclusive learning environment for students from all walks of life through its In League In Harmony program.
Kicking off its first term across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria this week, the program will empower more than 400 youths to be agents of change for a more cohesive society.
The game’s cohesion program has had a significant impact at Lurnea Intensive English Centre in New South Wales, with majority of their students being newly arrived migrants.
James Marcus, a teacher at the centre, told NRL.com that the In League In Harmony program, which they have been involved in for the last four years, has had a positive impact in the way that the kids interact.
"Since being involved in the program the school dynamic has completely shifted - it has introduced a new level of inclusion and respect for all,” Marcus said.
"And with most of our kids being from the Middle East. and all they know is soccer, the program has allowed them to learn a new sport whilst also being able to interact with the mainstream kids.
“Our program facilitator Paul (Franze) has been incredible in creating that safe and interactive environment for all of our students, helping them understand the importance of being inclusive as well as giving them confidence and the ability to develop new skills.
"Since jumping on board we've formed a leadership team that operates as mentors for a new students, and in doing this they are using the skill that they're learning from the In League In Harmony team.”
Former Kiwi International Clinton Toopi, who delivers the program in Queensland, is looking forward to Harmony Day on March 21 when all three states collectively celebrate their achievements.
"This program is the epitome of cohesion and connectedness,” Toopi said.
"It has created such a great support network where anyone and everyone can feel part of something.
"And one of the great things we've aligned for this term is to collaborate a cross-state celebration of Harmony Day.
"The value in the work that the whole In League In Harmony team have done and continue to do deserves to celebrated, as do our youth that are involved in the program.”
Rocco Giovanelli is a teacher at The Grange College in Victoria and says the school quickly acknowledged the program's impact on students.
After just one year of being involved, they implemented the program into one of their Year 9 elective courses.
"The program has no doubt created a pathway for students to become confident individuals and become leaders within our school environment, Giovanelli said.
"As a result, all the values that the In League In Harmony program associates with, we've brought into our teaching methods in and outside the classroom.
"Through our Year 9 Careers In Sport elective, we have embedded the program as part of that curriculum. It just fits in well with our outcomes and gives the students another pathway to learn leadership skills and a bit about the game of rugby league as well.”