Tackling of a different kind will be a feature of the coming weekend’s Group 16 v Indigenous All Stars game.
While the main action on Saturday, March 10, will be on the field, the sidelines will see spectators getting a handle on their health.
Free blood pressure and diabetes checks return after proving popular – and effective – in previous years.
Member for Bega Andrew Constance joined Southern NSW Local Health District chief Andrew Newton and Group 16 All Stars coach Ryan Apps in announcing the initiative on Friday morning, March 2.
Mr Constance said the state government was proud to be supporting the health check program by providing a sideline marquee for Bill Smyth Oval where members of the community can have their checkup.
READ MORE: Annual All Stars showcase coming to Narooma
The confidential checks will be carried out through the Katungul Aboriginal Medical Service, which has offices in Narooma and Bega, with referrals to additional care as needed.
Last year’s program on the footy field sideline saw an estimated 160 tests administered, with around 72 returning positive for diabetes.
“Those statistics are horrific and that’s why it’s so important,” Mr Constance said.
“If we intend to ‘Close the Gap’, we need to walk the walk. We are proactively going out into the community and looking to improve outcomes for the Indigenous community, indeed the broader community.
“It’s [the Indigenous All Stars game] a great time to do it with a big concentration of our Indigenous community in one place and I’d urge people to take the opportunity.
“It’s only a couple of minutes and it could save your life.”
Mr Newton said some in the Indigenous community can see hospitals as a place of illness and are reluctant to attend. He said having Katungul performing the checks out in the community was “convenient and helps navigate people into the right avenues for support”.
“It’s a shared responsibility – that the community supports programs like this by taking the opportunity, and to then know that someone does something with the information.”