Inclusion is the Winner!
Victoria’s Rugby League Inclusive Officer Maria Edwards was the 2012 Harvey Norman Women In League award winner. She is responsible for developing and implementing Rugby League based programs within Victoria, assisting and managing CALD and Indigenous Youth & Community Groups. Maria's main focus is with at risk youth, encouraging responsible choices through Rugby League based programs and positive education.
Maria designed and developed the Youth Interaction Program which has been endorsed by the VIC Police & VIC Blue Light where local Law Enforcement Officers actively take part in closing the gap between the youth and authority using the game of Rugby League. YIP is a 7 week program currently running in three secondary schools in Werribee. It has been immediately successful with significant improvement in the behaviours of school children, previously involved in anti-social activity, now attending school and being positively engaged in community activity. Word of this success has spread with unprompted requests from other schools in Dandenong (one being a predominantly Rugby Union Secondary School), Craigburn and Cranbourne to have the program active in their schools.
Come and Play the Ball is another program that Maria Edwards has developed, due to commence shortly. The purpose of the program is to alleviate anti-social behaviour around public transport infrastructure in Dandenong and the close the gap between youth and Transit Authority using the game of Rugby League. It sees Rugby League being played at the Popup Park in an effort to positively engage young people in the area, promote health, fitness and team work and reduce anti-social behaviours. Maria has brought together the Greater City of Dandeong Council, Mission Australia, Centre of Multicultural Youth, Victoria Policy and their PSO’s positioned at Dandenong Railway Station to work together as part of the program.
Maria also volunteers her time as a Board Member for Australian Women’s Rugby League as the Affiliate League Representative, Board Member for Waverly Panthers Victoria, Board Member for Maori Rugby League Victoria, Sports Trainer for Waverley Panthers Ladies Tag, Men's Reserve and 1st Grade teams in 2011-2012; Senior Sports Trainer for Victoria Women's League Tag team; Assistant Sports Trainer for Combined Affiliated States U/18 National School Boys Championships; First Aid Officer for School Sports Victoria U/12 National Championships, Masters Games and VRL Junior and Senior Club Grand Finals; MPIO - Member Protection Information Officer. She is also accredited with Level 2 Sports Training; Club Coach & Level 1 Referee.