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Origin greats back indigenous jobs

By Steve Gray 07/10/2009 02:52:39 PM Comments (0)

Rugby league greats have thrown their weight behind a program to tackle indigenous unemployment.

The former State of Origin players teamed up with the federal Employment Participation Minister Mark Arbib at an indigenous employment and careers expo at the home of rugby league in Queensland, Suncorp Stadium, on Wednesday.

Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis, Allan Langer, Gene Miles, Sam Backo, Greg Conescu, Mal Meninga and Michael Hancock were among them.

The Former Origin Greats (FOGS) were provided with $1.4 million to promote employment opportunities for indigenous Australians at six expos in Queensland.

"This (expo) is going to put young indigenous people in contact with future employers, providing them with a pathway into employment," Senator Arbib said.

"We all know indigenous unemployment in this country is three times average unemployment.

"That's why what FOGS are doing is so important."

Mal Meninga said it was the players' way of returning the backing they received as members of the State of Origin teams.

"Hopefully the 3,000 kids to get here today are looking at their future and what might set them up down the track," he said.

"We hope that through our profile, mentorship and these expos we encourage kids to stay at school, complete their education and if they don't do that look at some other way of continuing their learning."

Senator Arbib said there was a "wave of enthusiasm" among employers who are keen to employ indigenous Australians.

The NSW senator said he was embarrassed that his state did not have a similar program.

"It's definitely a model we should be looking at for the rest of the country," he said.

FOGS is a not-for-profit organisation made up of 167 former league players who represented Queensland in State of Origin football.

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