Game changing program creates pathway for Western NSW Aboriginal youth to the Paris Olympics

Thu, Jul 4, 2024, 4:46 AM
Waratahs Media
by Waratahs Media

A NSW Government funded sport-based life skills and leadership program is changing the game for Aboriginal students in Western NSW by enabling personal growth and opportunities.

Narromine teenager Callum Hutchison is set to join more than 500 young people from 36 countries for a conference at the Paris Olympics, after developing his leadership skills through the Rugby Creates Chances program.

The NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program invested $1.5 million to support Rugby Creates Chances, an initiative delivering a variety of school and community-based rugby and coaching programs in Narromine, Coonamble, Warren, Brewarrina and Walgett to help Aboriginal youth kick personal goals and get job-ready.

Supported by NSW Rugby, the two-year Rugby Creates Chances initiative includes a 10-week Tackle Life program, which trains 14-to-17-year-old students how to develop and teach rugby union skills in primary schools, at after-school activities, and in local clubs and community centres.

The program has opened an extra special door for 17-year-old Callum, who has been invited to experience a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports, as well as cultural enrichment opportunities, at the Festival 24 conference in Lyon and Paris.

Western NSW students take part in a 10-week Future Pathways program to identify their strengths, consider their careers and participate in mock job interviews and CV building to help them emerge from school work-ready.

The program then gives students the chance to get hands-on employment experience while earning a Certificate III in Sports Coaching, as well as develop leadership and problem-solving skills, and connect with their communities.

Upon completion of the program, NSW Rugby will offer five local Aboriginal young people ongoing employment as coaches, facilitators and coordinators, and 20 additional casual coaching positions to support local after-school and weekend activities.

The Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program seeks to empower Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within NSW to access pathways through education, training, employment and business support to reach their aspirations. For more information, go to

Minister for Regional and Western NSW, Tara Moriarty said:

“The NSW Government is improving opportunities for people in Western New South Wales and our Aboriginal communities and is delivering funding through partnership programs and the Regional Development Trust.

“I am delighted Callum will get to experience something as extraordinary as attending the Paris Olympics after his involvement in this program which has been made possible through the NSW Government’s Regional Aboriginal Partnerships Program.

“We can see how Callum and other youth are taking on new challenges, emerging as community leaders, plus practising the skill of self reflection which can influence behaviour.”

Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, David Harris said:

“By utilising young people's love of sport, Rugby Creates Chances offers an engaging pathway for Aboriginal youth to get active, train and upskill on Country while gaining valuable life and leadership experience.

“Alongside their Student Based Apprenticeships with NSW Rugby, the kids are getting a program with a proven track record for inspiring engagement, confidence and ensuring they emerge from school, job ready.

“I’m confident Rugby Creates Chances will deliver meaningful results for our young people in Western NSW while assisting to Close the Gap on Priority Reform 5, which aims to drive positive employment, training and broader social outcomes for Aboriginal peoples across New South Wales.”

Rugby Creates Chances student from Narromine, Callum Hutchison said:

“Rugby Creates Chances has really opened my eyes – I never really thought of going down the sporting career track until I jumped into the program, and I now plan on getting a job in sport, finishing high school and possibly going to university.

“I am still pinching myself that all of this has led to me being invited to go to Paris Olympics as part of Festival 24.

“Since starting Rugby Creates Chances, I have learned a lot about leadership skills, how to be more independent, and how to be a role model and mentor for the younger kids and people around me.

“Programs like this are important for country kids like myself because there’s not as many opprotunites in smaller towns, especially in sports or traineeships, and you have to travel pretty far to have a crack at trialling for things.”

Proud Dharawal man and Australian Rugby Sevens Olympian, Maurice Longbottom said:

“The Rugby Creates Chances program not only teaches kids skills about Rugby, but about resilience and leadership and preparing for the future, and I’m grateful and happy to hear that kids like Callum have these opportunities to grow and learn and prosper.

“Opportunities like this can be few and far between in smaller country towns, and I just love that this program is taking rugby and coaching skills on the road as part of a much bigger picture for these kids.

“I wish Callum all the best for his big trip to Paris, and I hope he can catch some of our games to keep that fire roaring in his belly for rugby and whatever comes next.”