The Queensland Firebirds have added significant depth to their community engagement initiatives, becoming the first ever national netball franchise to partner with Deadly Choices; Australia’s most successful and recognisable preventative health brand among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Brisbane’s Nissan Arena was today emblazoned with an impressive new take on the ‘Uniting Flames’ Aboriginal artwork of Rachael Sarra, through specially designed Deadly Choices shirts.
These shirts will be made available to community members who book a health check at one of the State’s many participating Community Controlled Health Services.
The Firebirds will optimise involvement with Deadly Choices throughout 2020, visiting Aboriginal Medical Service clinics throughout the State, plus assisting the practical delivery of key health messaging into Queensland schools, through foundation Deadly Choices Firebirds Ambassadors Jemma Mi Mi and Romelda Aiken.
“We’re really looking forward to getting out there and encouraging young girls and boys into getting active, exercising regularly and being healthy,” said Mi Mi who is a proud Wakka Wakka woman.
“I love the new DC Firebirds shirts, they’re a great representation of Rachael Sarra’s art which now aligns itself to community members making those deadly, healthy choices.
“I get a real buzz getting out to junior netball carnivals and seeing all the kids enjoying themselves, so if I can assist in inspiring these little ones in community to make positive life choices, then that’s rewarding in itself.”
Similarly, Aiken feels the Firebirds are well placed to bring about positive change through the Deadly Choices partnership.
“It’s such a great opportunity to be working with the Deadly Choices mob and helping youngsters be active in their communities, whether it be through netball, rugby, AFL or any other chosen sport in such a positive overarching health initiative,” confirmed Aiken.
“It’s all about giving kids that foundation and providing opportunities to expand.
“They see through the journeys of their own role models where they need to be, and what they need to do, to ensure a positive, fulfilling life and good health is a huge part of all that.”
Deadly Choices is an initiative of the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), which aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families, while also encouraging individuals to access their local Community Controlled Health Service and complete an annual ‘Health Check’.
Netball Queensland’s CEO Catherine Clark said the opportunity to partner with Deadly Choices was an important milestone for netball and the Diamond Spirit program.
“Our purpose at Netball Queensland is to transform lives through netball,” Ms Clark said.
“Through this partnership with Deadly Choices and Queensland Firebirds Ambassadors we can significantly expand the reach of our Diamond Spirit program and help support Deadly Choices continue to deliver positive health outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Ms Clark said the Diamond Spirit program wasn’t just about netball.
“It’s a holistic development program that encompasses teamwork, family, community, mentoring, academic support, social-emotional well-being, physical health, and spiritual support.”
“Our vision for the Diamond Spirit program is to empower more young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and boys to become the strong, healthy, empowered young people they were born to be.”
Since the program began in 2017, it has created opportunities for children and youth in some of Queensland’s most remote communities to participate in netball. The program also funds education hubs at Cairns and Bremer State High Schools, which have supported more than 150 students through direct mentoring and educational support, resulting in improved school attendance and academic outcomes amongst program participants.
The significance of this new partnership isn’t lost on Deadly Choices General Manager Ian Lacey, who has seen the successful utilisation of sport and top-level athletes towards achieving positive, long term health outcomes among communities.
“We’ve seen how successful our partnerships with the Brisbane Broncos and other NRL clubs have been, so with our first venture into netball the Queensland Firebirds and Netball Queensland provide the perfect vehicle to enhance continued delivery of positive health messaging into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities,” confirmed Lacey.
“This is a very timely and momentous addition to our partnerships portfolio. Through the support of Firebirds players and the amazing reach of netball, we’ll be educating youth about the importance of taking a preventative approach to their health and living healthy lifestyles.”
“The solutions that Deadly Choices are coming up with to improve health outcomes in our communities are actually solutions that benefit the whole country, so we are extremely excited about the partnership, as a fitting 10-year celebration of our commitment to communities.”
About the artist – Firebirds Deadly Choices shirts
Rachael Sarra is a contemporary Aboriginal artist from Goreng Goreng Country. Uniting Flames is a work of art created by Rachael in collaboration with the Queensland Firebirds team for the 2018 and 2019 Indigenous rounds of the Suncorp Super Netball Series.
Discussing ‘Uniting Flames’: “The Queensland Firebirds are more than the 7 players on the court at one time. Every step or pass you make, is ignited by those who have come before you and the people who show support. It is the strength in diversity that fuels unity, maintaining balance and harmony on and off the court. You are vessels for change, awareness and equality, each pass connecting different stories and identities. Your roots are strong in the Queensland landscapes. With every game you bring fire, and at every final buzzer, comes new growth.”
Rachael uses art as a powerful tool in storytelling to educate and share Aboriginal culture and its evolution. Rachael’s work often challenges and explores the themes of societies perception of what Aboriginal art and identity is.
Her style is feminine, fun and engaging but is strongly drawn from her heritage and her role as an Aboriginal woman in a modern world. Rachael is fuelled by passion to continue exploring her Aboriginality through art and design, with each piece strengthening her identity.
Rachael graduated with a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design from the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane.