Deadly Choices will be well represented at next month’s inaugural Trans-Tasman NRL Women's Indigenous All Stars rugby league game against the New Zealand Maori Ferns at AAMI Park Melbourne on Friday 15 February.
Speech pathologist and Deadly Choices ambassador Tallisha Harden, who was a member of the premiership-winning Brisbane Broncos squad, is joined by fellow ambassador and recently recruited Deadly Choices Program Officer Amber Pilley in the NRLW All Stars team.
2018 marked a whirlwind of personal and professional successes for Pilley, with the 21-year-old playing every minute of every game with the Broncos despite being the last player contracted to the all-conquering Brisbane outfit.
Full-time employment with Deadly Choices also allows Pilley to spread healthy, positive messaging into Gold Coast communities.
“The past 12 months have been awesome with opportunities and pathways opening up for all women in rugby league,” acknowledged Pilley.
“It’s really created a platform to inspire other young girls to reach for the stars and understand they can one day be a Bronco or be Rooster, it’s all very empowering.
“It’s much the same with the work we do at Deadly Choices where we’re able to positively impact people in community and encourage them to make Deadly, healthy choices.
“At the start of last year I never had any expectation of being involved in the NRLW and was fully concentrating on just doing my best for Burleigh.
“Getting the call up to the Broncos was amazing and now the opportunity to once again represent my family and my culture in the NRLW All Stars is something really special.
“I feel we all have a responsibility now to help other girls get into rugby league, to make it inclusive for everyone and that’s something I’m looking forward to being part of in the years to come.”
Also part of Burleigh’s premiership success, Harden’s 2018 season was typified with selection in the Queensland team which took on New South Wales in the inaugural Women’s State of Origin encounter at North Sydney Oval.
A strong performance justified her selection for the Broncos, however the 25-year-old had limited opportunities after being struck down with a virus during the early stages of the inaugural NRLW competition.
“It was tough being named as the 18th player for the Grand Final, but overall it was such an amazing experience to be a part of the first ever NRLW competition,” confirmed Harden.
“The fact we won the Premiership trophy and I was able to contribute to the team’s performance was really special.
“I missed the 2017 All Stars game as I was finishing off my university studies so I’m really excited to be back in the team. There’s a few old faces and a definite mix of youth so that’s very exciting.
“NRLW All Stars provides a great opportunity to apply yourself at that top level again, but above all else forming new friendships and making connections is a major highlight for this team.
“Deadly Choices will no doubt have considerable involvement with the NRLW All Stars game, so to be a part of this cultural celebration is something I treasure at personal and professional levels.”
Another player to look out for in the future is Kazzia Lammon, who also spreads the Deadly Choices message as a Program Officer.
Lammon played in the 2017 Indigenous Festival of Rugby League game with Pilley and enjoyed a solid 2018 season with the West Brisbane Pink Panthers who were defeated by Burleigh in the SEQ women’s decider.
Those efforts culminated in Kazzia gaining selection in the initial 30-member squad for the NRLW All Star clash.
With just two full seasons of rugby league to her credit, the 25-year-old fullback is something of a newcomer, but is by no means a stranger to the big-time of elite sport having already represented Queensland and Australia in top-level women’s hockey.
Deadly Choices continues to make a major impact in south-east Queensland communities with almost 21,000 individuals undertaking their health check assessment in 2017/18 which represents a 10.6 percent increase.
Significantly, there were more than 10, 600 new patients who had engaged with their local Aboriginal Medical Service for the first time, taking total patient numbers to more than 35,000.