Pushing for Positive Change in Papua New Guinea
16 September 2013 at 10:25 am
Adam Everill’s never-give-up attitude set him on the right track to start Rugby League Against Violence, a Not for Profit organisation that has gone from strength to strength since starting in 2011. He’s our featured Changemaker this week.
The father of two children under four, who also works full time as a partnership broker for The Smith Family in Wollongong, leads the organisation that works with violence-affected communities in Papua New Guinea and Australia.
“It was really hard going at the beginning, I was a one man band until only recently when it started to kick off at the end of last year,” Everill said.
Now, Rugby League Against Violence is managing about 60 volunteers in Australia and PNG, volunteers, like himself, who help run rugby and relationship programs in both countries.
With the help of its ambassadors including rugby league players such as Nathan Blacklock, Neville Costigan, Ate Bin Wabo, Charlie Wabo and Stanley Gene, the organisation has run programs including the recent Celebrity Swim to PNG at Bondi, which featured celebrities including Andrew O’Keefe and Wendell Sailor and raised more than $25,000 for the operations of RLAV’s programs in PNG including The Trupla Man, or “Real man”, campaign, which aims to foster more positive and non-violent forms of masculinity within Papua New Guinean communities.
Everill came up with the idea to start the organisation while looking into the prevalence of STIs and HIV in PNG during his post-graduate studies in international health.
He said he had identified the link to use the PNG people’s love for rugby league with educating communities not only in health but in ending domestic violence and sexual violence in the country.
A chance meeting with co-director Jacqui Joseph, who is from PNG, at the Global Changemakers summit in India in 2011 got the ball rolling in developing the idea into the organisation is today.
In 2012, Everill was named as Foundation for Young Australians "Young Social Pioneer" – a privilege for Australia's highest achieving social entregreneurs under 30.
He has also coached rugby league and has worked in development with the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and the St George Illawarra Dragons.
What are you currently working on in the organisation?
In Australia, we are about to start our very first Equal Playing Field project for young people in Year 7 and 8 at school (the Australian pilot will be run in the Wollongong area).
It’s an eight-week rugby league tag competition that integrates respectful behaviour embedded into the competition. It celebrates good people as well as good sportspeople.
As well as the three-game rotation competition we run a shed talk on a different topic each week. Topics including understanding negative thought processes and empathy. It’s less chalk more talk.
Players will also be competing to be the True Champion and each week kids will nominate a player on their team or someone on another team. Kids look for valuable and positive behaviour.
In Papua New Guinea, we worked with 19 men and women in a four-day couples workshop (Takaut Na Tokstret (TNT), “Talk out and talk straight” marital relationship workshop).
Many couples in PNG don’t know how to communicate and understand the position of wives and husbands. This is a really significant issue in PNG – domestic violence.
I consider my greatest achievement to be……
Being a father – the most difficult project you’ll ever undertake is being a parent. The biggest factor for a young person is their relationship with their parent.
In a professional sense, the organisation. I get very tired sometimes and sometimes the weight is very heavy but I get over to PNG and talk to the community and it brings it all back to you.
These people aren’t getting the support and help they need, and they’re really hungry for it.
I’m always being asked … How do you manage it all?
What does a typical day for you involve?
I wake up, get the kids (one aged three and the other four months) ready, have breakfast, go to work – 9-5, sometimes I have a meeting after work but generally I spend between 5pm and 7.30pm with kids, check emails and maybe give the baby a bottle in the middle of the night.
What inspires you? Who inspires you?
Kids – trying to be a good person. I’ve had a strange guilt drilled into me and have always been responsive to other people’s pain – it seems natural to do it.
I am also inspired by people who are living selflessly. Inspired by people I work with and people in PNG and work on the ground. One man who lives in PNG has no running water or electricity and still does so much for his community.
For me the real heroes are the people who contribute in a positive way.