Melbourne Storm utility Brandon Smith inspired 22 Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander students when he spoke about sacrifice, hard work and commitment during a two-day career bootcamp as part of the NRL School to Work program last month.

Smith spoke to the group about leaving his hometown in Waiheke Island, New Zealand and moving to Australia to follow his dream – playing rugby league at the highest level.

Melbourne Demons players Jeff Garlett and Toby Bedford also shared their journeys, with Garlett talking about the resilience he has needed to continue to play elite football.

The School To Work program, with the support of the Federal Government, uses the profile of the game of rugby league to support and encourage young Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Australians to stay at school and transition into further study, training or meaningful employment.

The two-day camp was held at AAMI Park and The Hub Community Centre in Darebin, with workshop content facilitated by WPC Group. 

Acknowledgement to Country was performed by Isaac Harrison who also played his Didgeridoo and shared his own story with the students from Thornbury High School and Reservoir High School.

Melbourne Storm player welfare coordinator Peter Robinson conducted a Yarning Circle with the students to create a safe place for them to share their own stories and the bootcamp ended with a spiritual healing trail walk through the Darebin Parklands with Uncle Trevor Gallagher.

Students participated in a Smoking Ceremony and gained hands-on knowledge of Aboriginal Culture, history and contribution and Uncle Trevor spoke about the importance of our ongoing effort for reconciliation.

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