From the troubled suburbs of Sydney’s inner west to the international rugby arena, Wallabies player Scott Sio understands the value of hard work and the benefits of positive role models.
Along with fellow Wallabies, Mr Sio last month attended a Proud Warrior session at Far North Queensland's Pallarenda Beach, joining Townsville soldiers to mentor and support at-risk youth in the community.
The program provides a safe and enjoyable environment, enabling the youths to build social skills and support networks; the importance of which Mr Sio said could not be underestimated.
“I grew up in the inner-west suburbs of Sydney and there is a history of troubled kids out that way, so I guess for us, it’s making sure we stick tight, build those friendships and connections. Having a good support crew is important,” Mr Sio said.
“That’s the aim of days like today; to help the kids build a friendship group they can rely on, people they can count on and trust and hopefully they can see the Wallabies as something like that for them.
“It’s a pretty tough world out there – there’s a lot of things that can tempt you to go in the wrong direction – but you have to trust those around you, especially here.
“They’re doing the best for you, they mean well and they’re very genuine.
“They want you to succeed in life and steer you on the right path.”
The Proud Warrior program is led by the 3rd Brigade’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment (2 Cav Regt) and began as a trial in October last year, with sessions centred around military-style activities focused on building teamwork, resilience and integrity.
The strong partnerships and robust engagement between the 3rd Brigade and community stakeholders have been key factors in the program’s success.
Queensland Police Service Townsville District Officer Chief Superintendent Craig Hanlon said the program was a credit to all involved.
“We’ve seen some really good results so far,” Chief Superintendent Hanlon said.
“These kids are going back to school, re-engaging with family, getting part-time jobs and spending less time out on the street, which are great behavioural changes.
“We try to understand the behaviour, to work out why they commit offences and then work out some strategies with our partners.
“Having the Wallabies here speaks to the program’s success, but it just goes to show that, collectively, we can achieve some good results.”
Those results, and the opportunity to engage with the local community, are what keeps the soldiers coming back as mentors, according to 2 Cav Regt’s Major Trevor Williams.
“We get the warm and fuzzies conducting this program,” Major Williams said.
“All of the Army personnel volunteer to be part of it.
"They come down after work to participate and it’s great to positively influence the kids and support the local community.
“To have the Wallabies here is pretty important.
“It shows the kids that if they work hard towards their goals, they can achieve whatever they want to achieve in their lives.”
With raw talent and encouragement to put in the hard yards, Mr Sio thinks there might be some future Wallabies among the Proud Warrior participants.
“I saw some wicked feet out there – some twinkle toes,” he said.
“It’s great to aspire to be a Wallaby.
“It’s a great goal, but the main thing is: whatever you love and have a passion for, just give your all to it and see what you can do.”
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