A BROWNS Plains teenager who juggles rugby league with working at Kmart has credited the Brisbane Broncos academy for helping her finish her studies and find a job after school.
Taylor Lawton-Bridge, 18, said a partnership between the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy and Kmart was the reason she graduated from Park Ridge State High School.
The club said it became involved in the program to empower young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls to finish high school and enter the workforce.
"When I first joined the Girls Academy, I wasn't sure if I'd like it," Ms Lawton-Bridge said.
"I was always absent from school and I was neglecting my schoolwork. I wasn't even sure if I would pass Year 12.
"But by the end of the year I was going to school a lot more and I was trying my hardest to graduate. The program has helped me find myself and become the best version of myself every day."
The Girls Academy helped Ms Lawton-Bridge apply for a job at Kmart after she graduated, and she has now been working at the Mt Gravatt store for the past six months.
"I make my own money and I don't have the stress of having to rely on anyone else or Centrelink," she said. "Working has definitely helped me decide what I want to do with my life."
In the past 12 months, Kmart has employed more than 70 young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people referred to them by the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy in Queensland and Northern NSW stores.
Kmart spokeswoman Karla Hume said the company was working with community organisations such as the Beyond the Broncos Girls Academy to provide industry expertise to help get young people job-ready and offering opportunities to academy students looking for work.
"We are committed to understanding, supporting and celebrating Indigenous Australian culture," Ms Hume said.
"We understand that this is an important component of building a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people feel they can belong - both as team members and customers.
"As an employer who has more than 250 stores across Australia, we know that one of the largest impacts we can make to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities is in sustainable employment in all locations."
Brisbane Broncos' community and government programs general manager, Christine Halliwell, said indigenous women had an important role to play.
"The Brisbane Broncos started the Girls Academy because it recognised the vital role that young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women play in influencing the next generation," she said.
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