A commitment to cultural awareness and the creation of talent identification pathways for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to reach the pinnacle of top level netball, is further enhanced as the Queensland Firebirds extends its community partnership, with the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health’s Deadly Choices preventative health program in 2021.
Understanding that health and education are two of the major social determinants which impact an individual’s capacity to reach their potential, Firebirds Ambassadors Jemma Mi Mi and Romelda Aiken will play a central role in driving health and wellbeing outcomes, and an increase in future Indigenous representation across Queensland’s netball ranks.
Queensland Firebirds CEO, Catherine Clark, expressed the Club’s pride in partnering with Deadly Choices for a second consecutive year to continue to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.
“Netball has such a significant relationship with our First Nations People, particularly here in Queensland, and the Firebirds are deeply committed to continuing our work with Deadly Choices to improve health outcomes in our communities,” Clark said.
“Our partnership with Deadly Choices complements the existing work we do through our Diamond Spirit program, a holistic community engagement initiative using netball as a vehicle to engage, empower and educate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls.”
“The Deadly Choices team will also play an important role in the ongoing cultural awareness journey of our organisation, as well as our sport more broadly across Queensland.”
Under the direction of Netball Queensland’s first ever Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, plans are afoot to have the Firebirds playing group undertake cultural training across various parts of Queensland, to grow cultural competency and understanding.
Part of this training will also allow players to appreciate the important role Deadly Choices plays in communities, and specifically why regular health checks are an imperative for individuals who can then choose Firebirds’ health check shirt incentives created by local artist Rachel Sarra.
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.
“Inspirational role models like Jemma and Romelda are crucial in spreading the vital health messaging around Deadly Choices during the formative years of our partnership with the Queensland Firebirds and we expect this to continue over the next 12 months,” confirmed Deadly Choices General Manager and former Olympic sprinter Patrick Johnson.
“We’ve seen how successful our partnerships with the Brisbane Broncos and other NRL clubs have been, so with the support of the Queensland Firebirds we know this ongoing partnership will provide the perfect vehicle to enhance continued delivery of positive health messaging into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 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.