The Passion and the People

Recently the CQ NRL Bid’s Business and Community Development Manager, Walson Carlos and I, visited Woorabinda for the 2011 Jobs EXPO. The impressive EXPO was organized by the Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council to benefit their citizens. Woorabinda or Woori as it is known, is situated about 2 hours drive from Rockhampton and is home to about 1000 Indigenous people. It has an unemployment rate of well over 60% and most of the people at Woori are young men, women, and children.

Over 50 CQ companies attended and discussed real job opportunities with the many hundreds of locals who came to the Sports Centre where the EXPO was staged. Just a few of CQ’s major employers who attended were;  QR National, Gladstone Port Corporation, Anglo Coal, Westfarmers Curragh, Stanwell, Queensland Police, Q Build, Bunnings, Defence Force Recruiting, Thiess, CQU, CQID, John Holland, Central Highlands Regional Council and many more.

The day was a mix of traditional dance, song, and culture along with the current and futuristic technology that these modern employers provide to their employees.

The CQ NRL Bid was invited to have a stand so the locals could enquire about the Bid and discuss its relevance to them and to their community. We also operated the ever popular Kawana Kitchens “pass the ball” for the kids to win Bid merchandise prizes.

It came as no surprise to me that the CQ NRL Bid’s stand was probably the most popular stand at the EXPO. There was one reason for that – RUGBY LEAGUE which is deeply engrained into the Woorabinda culture and society.

When the NRL CEO David Gallop came to CQ late last year, he noted the economic development that was evident and he was overwhelmed by the passion for Rugby League. David Gallop, like most strangers, would not believe the passion for Rugby League at Woori.

The Cowboys and Broncos provided loads of NRL merchandise prizes for the job enquirers. Jonathan Thurston has family links at Woorie and his donated autographed Queensland head gear is now pride of place at the Council office.

Three former NRL players attended; Rhys Wesser and Justin Loomans from CQ, and Steve Renouf from Cherbourg. All three former players spent almost all day signing autographs and having their pictures taken. But there was no pop star type reaction to these players’ presence. The response was measured and extremely polite. The sentiment I witnessed was one of absolute respect for these Indigenous players. The locals were in awe of Rhys, Justin and Steve and the players spoke to the youths about their lives and careers, both on and off the field.

The players’ presence was important because it demonstrated to the people of Woorabinda that these considerate men care enough about the gap that exists between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians that they gave their time to speak about the importance of school attendance and how education would provide job opportunities that were presented by the employers at the EXPO. Role models
are essential to Woorabinda.


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