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Deadly Blues launch

Thursday, 23rd May, 2019

(From left) Ian Lacey, Justin Files, Aunty Maureen O’Donnell, Nathan Blacklock and fellow rugby league legend Paul Langmack at the Deadly Blues launch. PICTURE: Callum Marshall (From left) Ian Lacey, Justin Files, Aunty Maureen O’Donnell, Nathan Blacklock and fellow rugby league legend Paul Langmack at the Deadly Blues launch. PICTURE: Callum Marshall

By Callum Marshall

A new campaign encouraging Indigenous community members to talk to their local GP and get their 715 health check was officially launched at Maari Ma yesterday.

The launch, which also took place across five other Indigenous health care services across the state, was part of the new Deadly Blues campaign.

The campaign is an offshoot of the Deadly Choices initiative of the Queensland based Institute for Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH).

It’s aim is to ‘empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to make healthy choices for themselves and their families - to stop smoking, to eat good food and exercise daily’, alongside getting their annual health checks.

With New South Wales Rugby League wanting to replicate the program across the state, the Deadly Blues campaign has been launched in the lead up to the upcoming State of Origin series, with every individual who gets their 715 health check getting a free Deadly Blues shirt.

Deadly Choices Ambassador Ian Lacey said launching the new campaign for New South Wales was a ‘no-brainer.’

“When NSW Rugby League reached out to us to come up with something using their State of Origin brand, it was a no-brainer for us,” he said.

“For us to activate that we needed to obviously have some services connected to on the ground. 

“So we put the call out to some of our existing partners and Maari Ma was one of them.

“We invited them to come along and they’ve been more than willing to take part and run with it.”

Ian said the campaign will run over three years and has been fully funded by the federal government.

He said its aim was to do more than just encourage Indigenous community members to access primary healthcare services.

“We also want to look at how we can use the brand of rugby league to encourage our community members, from right across the state, to better themselves and get themselves into the leap pathways.

“And tying rugby league alongside health (makes a lot of sense as well), you’ve got to be healthy to play the game at the highest level.

“So all the key messaging is very much similar to what a rugby league player hears, it’s just about putting that into context for our community members.”

Maari Ma CEO Justin Files said campaigns like Deadly Blues were incredibly important in getting the community into the health service for their check-ups.

“When we launched the Deadly Choice partnership we had the All-Stars jerseys we were able to share with the community, and they’ve already shown to be successful in terms of encouraging the community into the service,” he said.

“With the Blues one and the State of Origin being so close, there’ll be quite a few people wanting to come through the door to get them.

“And we need to be able to do whatever we can to be able to encourage our target population to come in and have their health checks.

“To have a yarn with a GP about what’s going on, but also so the GP can do some of your standard observations like blood pressure and sugar levels.”

Helping to get more people coming in is rugby league legend Nathan Blacklock, a Deadly Blues Ambassador. 

The former Roosters and Dragons player, the NRL’s top try scorer for three consecutive years from 1999 to 2001, said it was great to see so some famous faces get on board with the campaign. 

“With the New South Wales Rugby league coming on board, it just goes to show that they actually care about community and they want to give back to it as well,” he said.

“Especially with Freddie (Brad Fittler, NSW Blues Coach) on board, he’s 100 per cent behind it.

“To have someone like him and Dave Trodden (CEO, NSW Rugby) pushing it (is great because) we can actually go into the community with a bit more ammunition to help them and give them a bit more drive.”

He said it was incredibly beneficial for communities to see the games stars discuss their own health checks and the importance it means to them.

“I think getting the other rugby league players in (is really beneficial because) the community gets a chance to meet them face-to-face, talk with them, spend some time with them and learn that they’re doing the same thing as well, which is looking after themselves.

“So the community sees these young men that are out there playing rugby league, always on TV and media, come back to the community and look after themselves.

“And it grounds the players a bit, gets them back to a community level.

“I mean we’re human, we’ve got to do health checks all the time.

“You don’t know what could be wrong with you as you get older, so I’ll get mine every year. And with a family as well, I’ve got to make sure I’m around for them.”

The importance of getting big name players on board was echoed by Ian.

“Historically in Aboriginal health getting a male to access a primary healthcare clinic has been very difficult,” he said.

“But on the back of having these partnerships and these campaigns, back home in south-east Queensland we’ve actually seen a 50 per cent ratio of men accessing services. So 50-50 with the females.

“That’s unheard of across the country and it’s all on the basis of our community members, especially the males, loving the game of rugby league. 

“So they’re happy to come in and get their shirt and support their team and that enables us the ability to look after them long term.”

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