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School to Work program to enter 10th year after Government backing

The NRL's School to Work program has been extended a further three years through until 2023 with the support of the Australian Government.

The Indigenous education and employment program began in 2012 and will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year after a decade of supporting thousands of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth transition from school to work.

More than 2000 participants, ranging from students from Year 11 and 12, have taken part in the program with over 90 per cent graduating to employment or further education since its inception.

Students take part in educational, cultural and leadership workshops throughout their involvement in the program, as well as visiting club sponsors, partner organisations and government and corporate supporters to undertake work experience and job-readiness training.

Eleven NRL clubs are involved in the program including this year's top-eight teams Penrith, Canberra, Melbourne, Parramatta, Sydney Roosters, Newcastle and Cronulla.

Recently appointed NRL CEO, Andrew Abdo, who was officially unveiled as the league's boss on Thursday, thanked the Australian Government for its continued backing of an education and employment initiative that had proved incredibly successful since inception.

"As a sport that includes so many First Nations people, we felt a duty to develop an education and employment pathway that provided greater support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth transitioning from their final years of schooling into the next stage of their lives - and the School to Work program has grown from there," Abdo said.

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"The Australian Government has shown tremendous support along the way and together with a majority of our NRL clubs, we have seen many Indigenous students successfully graduate school and continue on their journey."

Minister for Indigenous Australians, the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM MP, added more than 200 school were involved in the program with a quality education essential to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.

"Over a number of years, the NRL has demonstrated its commitment to supporting young Indigenous Australians to stay at school, get a job, and be a role model for their families and communities," Wyatt said.

"A thousand students receive one-on-one mentoring, career guidance, access to work experience opportunities, industry visits and workshops across Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT and Victoria.

"After students graduate, the NRL then connects students to sustainable jobs through its established strong partnerships with over 100 businesses and institutions.

"Providing a clear employment pathway for hundreds of students has significant positive impacts across the broader community."

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Former Knights premiership and Indigenous All Star Timana Tahu is a Business Development Officer in the program and sees it making a big difference.

"I remember back to my schooling days and the pressure that I felt," Tahu said.

"This is a program that is making a real difference to the lives of Indigenous students, their families and our communities and it’s vital that we keep it going for many years to come."

Click here for more information on the School to Work program