St George Illawarra recently made a special visit to Wagga Wagga as part of the NRL Indigenous Round and Reconciliation Week to pay tribute to local resident Joanne Niki, the winner of the Dragons' 2022 indigenous jersey competition.
The proud Torres Strait Islander Niki mentors young adolescents at the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre in Wagga and was joined by Dragons trio Jaydn Su'A, Kezie Apps and Keeley Davis.
The Dragons will wear their 2022 Indigenous jersey twice this year, this weekend's Indigenous Round clash against the Bulldogs (away) and in Round 15 against the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Wollongong's WIN Stadium.
"During my time working for youth justice, I developed a love for painting at which time I was encouraged by Aunty Pat Dacey (Wiradjuri Elder) to explore my artistic abilities and to expand on this," Niki said.
"I have since gone on to create dozens of artworks with the young people and have also completed several artwork designs that have featured prominently on uniforms currently worn within youth justice.
"I am honoured that my design has been chosen to be used on the St George Illawarra Dragons Indigenous Jersey for the 2022 season."
The Dragons also visited five schools across Wagga Wagga, Young and Cootamundra as part of the club's popular health and wellbeing outreach program, 'The Best You Can Be'.
The 'Best You Can Be' program, now in its seventh year, has been very successful in supporting teachers to encourage students to make positive choices around health and wellbeing.
In 2021, in total, 104 schools took part in the program. 76 schools from our catchment, between Undercliffe in the north to Eden in the far south. We also delivered the program digitally to 28 rural and remote schools after receiving expressions of interest from five DEC Country Network Directors to offer the program to their schools.
Included in the Dragons' outreach program is little Queensland country school Dingo State School. This was Dragons captain Ben Hunt's primary school, with him now funding the program for his old school.