Souths Cares recently showcased their indigenous School to Work Transition Program in Canberra to the Federal MPs Parliamentary Friends of Rugby League group.

General Manager Shannon Donato headed the Souths Cares delegation and was accompanied by former program participant, Kelly Geddes.

Shannon said the event proved a winner with many of the Australian-based NRL clubs represented at the lunch-time event.

“With over 100 politicians and their staffers in attendance, Souths Cares was able to assist the NRL in highlighting Rugby League’s ever growing involvement in their communities,” he said.

“The opportunity to meet with Federal Ministers, Members and their key policy staff was a great opportunity to discuss the excellent results Souths Cares has achieved in a number of its community program areas.

“As part of the South Sydney Rabbitohs family, Souths Cares had access to a number of Ministers on the day, to not only showcase these programs but to also illustrate our need for improved facilities to accommodate our ever-increasing growth.”

Shannon also said Kelly Geddes – now a Souths Cares team member – participated in a question and answer session designed to educate politicians on the federally funded School to Work Transition Program.

“Kelly is someone that joined our program as a student, completed her HSC and is now working as a valued member of the Souths Cares team as a trainee,” said Shannon.

“Kelly is a great example of how our program is working in the community and why it should be continued.

“After Kelly addressed the room, I believe those present had a new appreciation for the strong connection rugby league has with the local community and the value of the programs we deliver.”

Despite the understandable nerves Kelly felt before she spoke to the packed auditorium, she said that the effort was worth it.

“Having been in the Program I know firsthand of the benefits of being supported and assisted to stay at school and complete the HSC,” Kelly said.

“I participated in a number of Souths Cares workshops while at school and I benefitted a lot from them.

“These workshops gave me a better idea of what I wanted to do with my future and what direction to take after school, for example studying at university or TAFE or even going straight into employment.”

Kelly said that Souths Cares Mentor and former State of Origin representative, Rhys Wesser, had a lot to do with her sticking at school and gaining direction for the future.

“Being involved in the program and working with Rhys really helped me identify what my career goals were and how to develop my own pathway,” she admitted.

“I got to know Rhys and I got the support I needed to get through years 11 and 12, and complete my HSC.

“After finishing school my next move was to go on to TAFE.  Rhys continued to support me though this transition period and it was through him that I actually got a job with Souths Cares team and now I can help all the other indigenous students to complete their HSC and go on to further studies or employment.”

“One message I would like to leave students with is to take every opportunity that is given to them even if they are unsure because it could turn out to be something they really enjoy doing and could take them to bigger things in time,” Kelly concluded.

Shannon said that of the indigenous students’ participating in the Souths Cares School to Work Transition Program 90% complete their HSC and successfully transition in to either further studies or employment.

“The Program is working and the students, supported by the Souths Cares team, are on their way to achieving their dreams and that’s the message we hoped to leave with the Government – Rugby League can be a very effective agent of positive change in the community,”said Shannon.

“Souths Cares would like to thank the Federal Government for inviting them to be part of the event.”

The Souths Cares School to Work Program is supported by the Australian Government.