The Cowboys High Performance Centre in Townsville

Indigenous Engagement Strategy summary: North Queensland Cowboys

Investment Decision: November 2019

Project overview

The Hutchinson Builders Centre (the Centre) is a new community, training and high-performance centre built beside Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.

In developing their Indigenous Engagement Strategy (IES) and Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), the North Queensland Cowboys are able to also draw on the club’s proud history of programs and activities which continue to contribute daily to reconciliation in North Queensland. As such, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation forms a significant part of the Cowboys’ player group, membership and fan base, staff, and the broader North Queensland community.

This facility will provide the opportunity for the Cowboys to expand their commitment to the key areas of Indigenous participation, employment, cultural heritage and community development.

Key Commitments

  • Respectful engagement with Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners ensuring appropriate acknowledgement of Traditional Owners in the facility itself.
  • A commitment to participate in and observance of cultural protocols and ongoing engagement with the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners.
  • During construction, a commitment to a 6.6% Indigenous participation during construction across employment and procurement and a commitment to 20% Indigenous employment target in the merchandise and hospitality outlets during operations.
  • Contractors to employ an Indigenous Liaison Officer.
  • Develop a preferred Indigenous business supplier register and establish two commercial relationships with Indigenous businesses.
  • Establish an Indigenous Economic Participation Committee with Traditional Owners and key State and Commonwealth Indigenous, employment and training agencies to support and provide advice on the delivery of the IES.

Community Engagement

The North Queensland Cowboys aim to have respectful engagement with the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba Traditional Owners ensuring appropriate acknowledgement of Traditional Owners in the facility itself, and participation in and observance of cultural protocols and ongoing engagement.

Working with the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba people ensures that culturally appropriate protocols and awareness are considered throughout the project. The North Queensland Cowboys will also engage and brief the Australian Rugby League Indigenous Council on the project.

The Centre will host installations representing all Traditional Owner groups in North Queensland and recognising past and present Indigenous players. In addition, the Cowboys Indigenous jersey designs will be displayed to promote their Indigenous artists and the stories behind the designs.

The Cowboys’ focus on providing opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in their playing group and organisational staffing and in the community programs they conduct aligns with and supports their key strategic priority to strengthen and further build their community base, in turn growing their membership and brand profile.

The IES supports the North Queensland Cowboys in providing pathways to engage young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into the workforce, including hosting work experience opportunities for secondary and tertiary students, and working with programs like NRL Cowboys House, Clontarf and Stars programs.

Any future facility tenants will have incorporated into their lease agreement an agreement to in-principal alignment with the North Queensland Cowboys’ Indigenous Engagement Strategy and Reconciliation Action Plan pertaining to Indigenous employment and economic participation.

The Centre will ensure awareness and recognition of any Cultural Heritage Management Plan in place. They will respectfully acknowledge Country and the Traditional Owners in consultation with the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba representative. The Cowboys will embed cultural protocols and cultural competencies in all operational planning considerations (including cultural capability training across staff and contractors).

The IES will encompass the expansion of community programs, including the Dream, Believe, Achieve program, which will aim to improve employment opportunities for Indigenous graduates, in conjunction with the Cowboys Leagues Club.

“Our Indigenous Engagement Strategy is multi-faceted and reflects our deep commitment to the ongoing recognition and engagement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in our new facility and broader business,” Cowboys Chief Executive Officer Jeff Reibel said.

“We value our strong relationship with the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Hutchinson Builders Centre now stands, the Gurambilbarra Wulgurakaba people; it’s a connection built on respect that prioritises consultation, learning and understanding.

“Many of the initiatives within our IES are natural extensions of existing collaboration and we are very proud to continue and build on this work for the betterment of Indigenous people and to create greater awareness of the importance of inclusion, diversity and equity in our community.”


View the North Queensland Cowboys case study factsheetopens PDF file