Power play: How Stanwell is helping to develop community champions on and off the field

17 March 2023

South Burnett Rugby League’s Beyond the Nest program, supported by Stanwell Corporation’s Community Sponsorship Program, is helping young players to spread their wings on the football field – and in their communities.

At Stanwell, we know that to provide long-term value for Queensland, we have to deliver more than electricity. We also have a unique role to play in our host regions, linking people together and providing funding to help solve community challenges.

That’s why our social investment programs support activities that make a genuine quality of life contribution to our communities in the South Burnett and Central Queensland.

Michael Joy, Stanwell’s General Manager Southern Generation, works closely with community leaders in the South Burnett to build a strong, long-term future for the region.

“We’re always looking for ways to help make the South Burnett more vibrant, prosperous and inclusive,” he says. “To do that, we have to understand the community’s priorities – and there’s no denying that rugby league is a priority in the South Burnett.”

The South Burnett has a proud tradition of rugby league greatness, with a local competition that’s been running for over a century. Brisbane Broncos legend and Queensland Maroons great Steve Renouf played his junior football in the South Burnett, lining up for the Murgon Mustangs. Since then, stars like Willie Tonga, Gavin Cooper and Selwyn Cobbo have also emerged from the region.

But in recent years, the pride that players once took in representing the South Burnett seemed to have faded, and the South Burnett Eagles jersey didn’t seem to hold the same allure. By 2018, interest in representative rugby league was at an all-time low in the junior ranks, and the once-mighty region was struggling to field junior representative teams.

That’s when Allan Trunks, a member of the South Burnett Team of the Century, stepped in. He brought the leaders of the local rugby league community together and inspired them to develop a program that would revive interest in representative football in the South Burnett – and teach young players valuable life skills.

Beyond the Nest is a development program offered to all local registered players from the ages of 12 to 17. It includes an annual development camp, held over two nights at the Murgon PCYC, as well as a series of single-day development sessions held throughout the region over the course of the year.

South Burnett representative rugby league coordinator, Carl Braithwaite says the program features professional coaches and inspiring guest speakers who impart their wisdom to more than 70 young players each year, and help to up-skill local coaches.

“The idea was to reconnect the local juniors with their representative team, the South Burnett Eagles, and to restore a sense of pride in representing their region,” he says.

“The Beyond the Nest brand has become instantly recognisable in the region, and the program has increased the junior rugby league participation rate. It’s also helped participating players to make NRL development squads and earn scholarships to rugby league schools.”

But perhaps even more importantly, Carl says the program helps to instil values in the young players that make them better members of their community.

“We have very high expectations of the kids who take part in the camp and their work ethic,” Carl says. “It takes a lot of volunteers to run the camp, from the coaching staff to the kitchen, and the kids are taught to respect these volunteers and show their appreciation for them.

“We don’t just develop rugby league skills at Beyond the Nest. We also have wellbeing sessions and leadership workshops, where guest speakers talk to the players about the importance of mental health and goal-setting, and what it takes to be a leader in the community.

“The fact is that rugby league coaches are important role models in a young person’s life, so this is an opportunity to make the most of that. It’s not just about footy – it’s about growing good young people. It’s about the future of the South Burnett.”

Carl says the funding Beyond The Nest has received from Stanwell’s Community Sponsorship Program – which provides financial assistance for non-profit groups that run community events, projects and activities – has been crucial to the success of the program.

“Without sponsors like Stanwell, a program like Beyond The Nest just couldn’t operate,” Carl says. “It’s because of their support that we’re able to keep the price of the program down, and make it affordable for families across the South Burnett.

“The program includes food, accommodation and professional coaching. If we were to charge the true cost of the program, it would cost at least three times as much, and it just wouldn’t be viable.

“But thanks to sponsors like Stanwell, it’s probably the cheapest three-day football program you’ll see anywhere in the country, so it’s accessible for the kids in the region.

“The community has really gotten behind what we’re doing with the Beyond the Nest program – and it’s that community involvement that makes it so special.”

Are you taking part in a project that’s enriching the community? Learn more about Stanwell’s Corporate Sponsorship Program and Community Partnership Fund here; contact the Stakeholder Engagement team directly on (07) 4160 9165 (South Burnett) or (07) 4930 3634 (Central Queensland); or email sponsorship@stanwell.com.