The South Sydney Rabbitohs will be joining major corporate partner, Crown Resorts, and NSW's largest foster care service, KARI Aboriginal Resources, in spreading awareness of the Close the Gap message in round 23 of the NRL Telstra Premiership, by wearing a special jersey to highlight the NRL-supported Close the Gap campaign.

Crown Resorts have donated their front-of-jersey position for the Rabbitohs game against the Broncos to KARI Aboriginal Resources, whose logo will appear on the front of the South Sydney jersey for the first time this Thursday night at ANZ Stadium. The jersey was designed by former NRL player and contemporary Indigenous artist Sid Domic. This is the second year in succession that Mr Domic has designed the Rabbitohs’ Close the Gap jersey.

KARI Aboriginal Resources, official Indigenous Services Provider of the South Sydney Rabbitohs, is NSW's largest foster care service providing loving homes for disadvantaged children all over Sydney. KARI has partnered with the Rabbitohs to raise awareness of the over-representation of Aboriginal children currently within the foster care system.

KARI’s main focus is Aboriginal child protection, youth education, child and family support, and community strengthening. KARI’s message of ‘Changing Lives, Keeping Culture’ will be displayed on the Rabbitohs Indigenous Jersey this Thursday night. The ‘Keeping Culture’ message emphasises KARI’s commitment to providing Indigenous Carers for their Indigenous Foster Care Children so as Indigenous Children are brought up being taught to be proud of their culture.

Paul Ralph, CEO of KARI Aboriginal Resources, said: “The Close the Gap round is meant to highlight the distinct disadvantages that historically have existed between Indigenous Australia and non-Indigenous Australia.

“By accepting this fact and then each one of us playing our part in closing this gap, until the gap is no more, only then can we proudly stand together as one united country.

“KARI and Crown Resorts stands united in endeavours to reach this common goal and that is to ensure that all Indigenous Australians have the right and opportunity to determine their own future. KARI is proud to stand alongside such great partners in Crown Resorts and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.”    

Building on Crown Resorts’ commitment to Indigenous employment and training, the Crown Resorts Foundation recently announced a $200 million National Philanthropic Fund. The National Philanthropic Fund will be allocated over 10 years and has two branches, the first is $100 million for the National Arts Fund and the second is $100 million for the Community Partnerships and Indigenous Education Fund.

Crown Resorts supports other community organisations such as Ganbina, Korin Gamatji Institute and other not for profit organisations to create pathways for Indigenous youth to build career in hospitality and tourism. Crown Resorts is also working with Souths Cares, the charitable arm of the South Sydney Football Club, to build long term relationships to support the delivery of community programs and assist in the career opportunities for the community in NSW.

Crown Resorts is partnered with the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, located in Redfern in the heart of South Sydney territory, working with the leadership at NCIE to train and develop their executives.

Crown Resorts Chairman, James Packer, said: “We certainly value our position on the front of the Rabbitohs home jersey, but we saw there was greater value for an organisation like KARI Aboriginal Resources to help spread the Close the Gap message by donating our jersey position to them for this game.

“The $100 million Community Partnerships and Indigenous Education Fund will help support organisations that are working to improve the education, life skills and ultimately employment prospects of young Indigenous Australians. We will support programs that provide some of Australia’s most marginalised youth with the belief and confidence to grow and to succeed.

“Crown’s commitment to offer 2000 job opportunities to Indigenous Australians remains today as strong as ever. With each new employee we make a difference, in their life, their family’s lives, and in the community. As an organisation we believe the best way for us to close the gap is through employment and education.

Rabbitohs fullback, NRL Indigenous leader and Crown Resorts Education Ambassador, Greg Inglis said: “As a team we’re really looking forward to playing the Broncos this Thursday night in this very special jersey, and helping to raise awareness of the Close the Gap message.

“I’m familiar with the work that both Crown Resorts and KARI do for the Indigenous community and for us to be able to help raise awareness in Thursday’s game is fantastic.

“It’s very generous of Crown Resorts to donate their front-of-jersey position to KARI. We’ll all be very proud to represent South Sydney and these organisations in the jersey this week.”

The Close the Gap Round highlights Indigenous heritage which players hope will inspire Rugby League fans to pledge to support reducing the life expectancy gap of more than a decade between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The National Rugby League was the first sporting code to support Close the Gap, Australia’s largest ever campaign to improve the life expectancy of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The partnership with the NRL provides Oxfam and the Close the Gap campaign with an opportunity to promote its message of Indigenous health equality to a broader Australian audience.

You can help KARI by making a donation by purchasing a raffle ticket at the Rabbitohs vs Broncos game on Thursday 14 August at ANZ Stadium, or by donating online at www.givenow.com.au/KARI. Visit www.kari.org.au to find out other ways in which you can assist KARI.