An initiative of Hunter Clubs that saw more than 3500 people engage in the Volunteer Program for the Special Olympic 2013 Asia Pacific Games (SOAPG 2013) in Newcastle has taken out the Award for Outstanding Regional Initiative at the 2014 Clubs & Community Awards.
SOAPG 2013 was one of the largest community events that the Hunter region has experienced, drawing more than 2500 athletes from 29 nations.
In an environment that was experiencing a downturn in mining investment and the manufacturing sector, Clubs recognised that in order to generate support it had to create an easy way for the region to connect. This was about inviting people of the Hunter region to present as a united group of ‘Volunteer Champions’ – to promote the idea of working together to help athletes with special needs enjoy and compete in the Games.
On 9 August 2013 more than 100 clubs from across the Hunter region launched an appeal to recruit volunteers.
The initial group 25 Volunteer Champions included organisations that were driven by the value of partnerships and understood how they could deliver outcomes for the region. Many also had existing large member or volunteer bases.
Shortly after the ‘Champions’ launch Hunter TAFE was successful in its bid to obtain funding from State Training Services. This funding allowed for up to 350 volunteers to undertake a Certificate II in Tourism free of charge. Hunter TAFE engaged ClubsNSW and began a marketing and communication program that targeted people who were looking to enhance their experience by training to become Team Leaders for the Games.
ClubsNSW Newcastle & Hunter Representative, Jon Chin, said that the Award was a win for the region – highlighting generosity of its people.
“It is timely that as we celebrate National Volunteers Week that the Hunter should be honoured for its dedication and contribution to an event that injected more than $20 million into the local economy.” Jon said.
“We are also very proud that the community and promotional engagement model for the Champion Volunteer Program is being used by other major event organisers in the region and beyond as benchmarks in preparation for events.”
The communication objective was for ClubsNSW to stand with other Hunter organisations to showcase the region's outstanding community spirit. The initial group of ‘Champions’ included:
- Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service
- NRMA Motoring & Services
- The Newcastle Knights
- The Newcastle Jets
- Hunter TAFE
- Hunter Medicare Local
- Wheeling & Able
- Awabakal Newcastle Aboriginal Cooperative
- HMRI + PULSE
- The Hawthorne Club
- Hunter Breast Cancer Foundation
- Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance
- NUsport | The Forum
- Nova Employment
- Hunter Surf Life Saving
- Council Sport & Rec
- Centre for Volunteering
- Purser Corporate Communication
- State Transit – Newcastle Buses
- Social Life Magazine
- Life Without Barriers
- Newcastle Airport
Charlestown Bowling Club was also honoured at the Awards, receiving a 'Highly Commended' in the same category.