Blake Ferguson and Nathan Blacklock visit WACHS for Deadly Blues launch

St. Mary's School Captains Millie Mils and Mikaela Solomans with Blake Ferguson.
St. Mary's School Captains Millie Mils and Mikaela Solomans with Blake Ferguson.

Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service has hosted two NRL greats during the launch of the latest co-operative effort between the two organisations.

Former Wellington Cowboy and current Parramatta Eel Blake Ferguson was on hand to talk about health and fitness during the launch, alongside former Dragons' top try-scorer Nathan Blacklock.

The Deadly Blues campaign, a partnership between New South Wales Rugby League, Urban Indigenous Health and Deadly Choices, will encourage indigenous individuals to get a 715 health check on a yearly basis.

According to WACHS, the aim of the promotion is to help Aboriginal community members lower the risks associated with chronic disease, malnutrition, a lack of physical activity and smoking, which are identified as having a negative effect on the health outcomes of indigenous communities.

Residents who go to the WACHS' Maxwell Street Clinic will receive a free New South Wales Rugby League inspired 'Deadly Blues' shirt when they receive one of the health checks.

Blake Ferguson with students from St Mary's Catholic School.

Blake Ferguson with students from St Mary's Catholic School.

Kristian Heffernan, the Indigenous and Community Programs Manager of NSW Rugby League spoke to the assembled crowd about the changes the NRL hopes to make to health outcomes through the Deadly Blues partnership.

"Over the last couple of years [NSW Rugby League] has really taken steps to try and engage with community and we understand the value of Rugby League, particularly in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community," Mr Heffernan said.

Mr Heffernan thanked the staff and leadership at WACHS and credited them as 'one of the best operators' in rural and regional communities.

"It's very exciting for NSWRL to have these guys onboard for the Deadly Blues campaign."

Mr Heffernan also asserted that NSWRL would be ramping up it's focus on developing young talent in the region.

"We've got a couple of exciting things coming up, we're going to be working with the community and work through some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander academies for under sixteens, where we'll come out a couple of times throughout the year with our elite pathways system."

Mr Heffernan said that the plans were for the programs to eventually be opened up to both girls and boys.

WACHS CEO Darren Ah See thanked the NSWRL representatives for their assistance and stated his hopes for the joint program.

"As everyone knows, particularly in these rural areas, the support of Rugby League is a lifeline to most country towns and Wellington is no different," Mr Ah See said.

"Hopefully in the near future we can get some traction with those partnerships, get some access to high performance coaches and facilities and hopefully produce some future Origin stars from out this way."

"Deadly Choices do a great job with what they do with their program, it's about encouraging 715 health checks for adults and children, and that process is important in giving us a monitoring tool to assist in assessing people's health," Mr Ah See said.

"Community control is about primary health care which is about being proactive to stop people from getting serious illnesses and diseases and help keep them out of the hospital."