The rugby league helped provide a lifeline for Newcastle Knights Premiership player and New South Wales State of Origin representative Timana Tahu.
- Tahu works in a work program from NRL’s school
- This program helps indigenous high school students transition from school to work or tertiary education
- Tahu says he wants his work to highlight the importance of education
“It changed my life dramatically,” Tahu said.
“I grew up in a tribal hostel. I didn’t know what to do with my life.”
Tahu spent most of his childhood in a hostel in Dubbo and Newcastle. Football was his way to a brighter future.
“One day, I was invited for a free trial at Newcastle Nights and in two years I was playing first class,” Tahu said.
The Barkindji man from the Wilkenia area of northwestern New South Wales during his football career. Spread out from 2011 to 2016 and started doing extraordinary things including both rugby codes.
He won the NRL Premiership with the Knights in 2001 and also played for Paramatman and Pennith, while representing New South Wales and Australia in various seasons.
When switching codes in 2000, Tahu played for Waratah and Vallabhbaj, before appearing on the Denver Stampede at the United States Rugby Union tournament.
Now he is making a comeback, creating opportunities for the next generation of indigenous youth.
Tahu is the business development officer for NRL’s School to Work program, which helps Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander high school students transition from school to work or tertiary education.
“Our tribal children, they are not all players,” Tahu said.
“Most of them are academic. We’ve got a 0-50 division that wants to do better in the lives of boys and girls.”
Research shows that the longer indigenous youth are out of school or do not find employment, the greater their risk of long-term unemployment.
Tahu wants every first-nation child to have equal opportunities to study and work.
“What I learned to play in the NRL is how important education is,” he said.
“I got my business education diploma, certificate (certificate) three and four fitness, extra strength and condition license.
“I was not only playing but educating myself.”
The School to Work program has been running since 2012 and aims to give young Adivasis the opportunity to achieve their goals.
One of those young people is Kempseki Belly Schools.
“I’m a Du Dun Gutti man, I really hope to get my HSC (Higher Secondary Certificate),” Scholes said.
“That’s what I want to do, school is over, and I took it to school as a great opportunity to work on my faith and leadership skills.”
Scholes has just done, as he grows up in the program.
On her own initiative, the 1-year-old organized a traditional dance for the NRL’s indigenous goal, which began last night and spread over the weekend.
The dance program Scholes and other Indigenous students will perform in front of the home crowd at the Knights-Sea Eagles game in Newcastle on Sunday.
The 11-year-old is still deciding on a career path, but he feels he can do anything now.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do at the moment but I have a lot of things in my head,” Scholes said.
This week Scholes fulfilled another dream when he met his NRL statues, aboriginal stars Lateral Mitchell and Cody Walker.
“They are very good models for me and set a good example in the community,” he said.
“I follow the Knights and Rabbithos. Obviously GI (Greg Inglis) and Lateral Mitchell are my favorites, but there are also youngsters. [the Wests Tigers’] Dine Laurie. I look at them. “
More than 250,000 participants have come through the School to Work program with great success rates – 2 per cent Finnish year 12 and per per cent students are employed on a long-term basis.
By 2000, an additional 1,000 students will have graduated.
The importance of tribal culture
For other participants, the School to Work program is about self-discovery.
“It’s very important to me because I have this gap – like, I’m indigenous, what does that mean? It fills a big gap for me,” said Mackenzie Bonnie, a 16-year-old from Shelharbor. Ilawar area of New South Wales.
Building her self-identity has given Bonnie pride and meaning for her life.
“Everyone here is like me,” she said.
“It’s great to talk to all these people and hear about their heritage and culture and their relationship with the country. It’s something that sets you apart but also brings you together.”
The NRL wants its indigenous goals to celebrate its culture and history, but it is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the disparities between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
Following the racial remarks made by then-assistant coach Andrew Jones about Greg Inglis for Tahu, who rose up against ethnicity in the 2010 State of Origin series – he has a long list of challenges faced by tribals. .
“There is a big gap between health, life expectancy, justice system and education – indigenous and non-indigenous,” Tahu said.
But that doesn’t stop Tahu and others from trying to close the gap on and off the field.
“We have a long way to go but we are demonstrating this and bringing it to light and moving forward in a positive way,” he said.