The Sharks have extended their community partnership with national Indigenous preventative health organisation Deadly Choices into 2022, after together meeting the challenges of the past 18 months of COVID restrictions and lockdowns.
Sharks Engagement and Pathways Coordinator Rachal Allan has maintained a presence for Deadly Choices, despite being unable to conduct healthy lifestyle education programs in local schools or conduct health check days, instead finding alternate ways to interact, engage and assist with the health and wellness of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their families.
“During lockdown I have been utilising my skills as an Aboriginal Health Practitioner by going in to Vitalis Family Medical Practice in Kirrawee to complete 715 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments,” Allan explained. “We did this via telehealth to ensure community members were able stay on top of their overall health during this time.
“I also took the opportunity to address vaccine hesitancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by getting people booked in to the COVID19 vaccination clinics, while also taking the time to have meaningful discussions around the vaccine, for anyone who may be hesitant or unsure about stepping up for the jab,” Ms Allan added.
The Sharks and Deadly Choices also enlisted the NRL playing group to assist in encouraging COVID vaccinations, with a number of players involved with the Deadly Choices “Step Up For The Jab” campaign during their Queensland relocation, while Jesse Ramien and Andrew Fifita attended the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service (ATSICHS) in Brisbane in mid-September to receive their jab to protect their families and communities.
And of those left back in Sydney when the team headed north, club captain Wade Graham was a vocal advocate on vaccinations and one of the first to receive a double dose for the benefit of himself and his family.
Deadly Choices aims to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families by not smoking, eating good food and exercising daily, while also connecting the community with the appropriate health services and implementing safeguards against the development of chronic disease.
In Aboriginal slang if something is ‘deadly’ it is great. As such, a Deadly Choice is a healthy choice, and the community is encouraged to make such positive choices every day.
The Sharks formed a relationship with Deadly Choices back in 2018, with the program to continue to operate as it aims to further connect the Sharks with the local Indigenous community, aligning with current Sharks Have Heart’s programs and initiatives that fall into the pillar of Inclusivity and Diversity.
Deadly Choices is making a real difference in closing the health and life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and with the continued support and commitment of the Sharks, momentum will continue to be enhanced throughout the Shire over coming years.