Male corporate volunteer playing wheelchair basketball.

genU celebrates the 20th Workplace Big Day Out

Yesterday, genU celebrated the 20th Workplace Big Day Out inclusion event for people with disability.

Held at the AWA Alliance stadium in Belmont, around 270 genU clients, corporate volunteers and support staff attended the much-loved day filled with team adventures.

Sailors Rest owner, Geraldine Tripodi said genU’s Big Night Out* inspired their team to be one of the 11 local businesses to volunteer for the Big Day Out this year.

“It’s a highlight and a time where we find our Christmas spirit… a very joyful experience so I thought the Big Day Out would be a nice thing for our team to experience together, good team bonding,” Geraldine said.

“The team were all a bit nervous at the start as they didn’t know what to expect, but as soon as the clients arrived, they settled and an hour in, they know their names, they’re chatting to them, they were having fun and it’s great to see.”

Corporate volunteers were joined by 43 Grovedale College Sports Academy students to support genU clients from Geelong and Werribee through a range of activities – from parachuting and dancing, to football, netball and wheelchair basketball.

“The students say it’s unbelievable,” Grovedale College Lead Teacher, Nerissa Whyte said. “It’s just such an eye opener and really raises their awareness and the importance of being inclusive and treating everybody the same regardless of what their disability may or may not be.

“Very few of them would have any experience with people with disability so it’s amazing for their confidence and their awareness. Seeing the person before the disability, that’s what we try to get the kids to take out of the day.”

Director of the Grovedale College Sports Academy Jacob Spolding said the best part of the day was seeing the smiles on the students and clients faces.

“It’s unreal for us as teachers and the kids get heaps out of it,” he said. “They go back to school with a different attitude…it’s really beneficial.”

How it all began

In 2002, our organisation (formerly known as Karingal) hosted a special event to recognise our volunteers as part of International Year of Volunteers. At the time, actor, Guy Pearce had a connection to Karingal and was set to join the celebration as a special guest. When a late change in filming dates changed Guy’s schedule, the former Geelong resident made a very generous $10,000 donation to Karingal. In consultation with Guy and his family, Karingal allocated these funds to address a common issue for people with disability – social isolation.

With support from United Way (now known as Give Where You Live), the first Workplace Big Day Out event was held at Wallington’s Adventure Park in December of 2002. Sixty-five people attended the fun-filled day of canoeing, mini golf, watersides, kite flying and volleyball.

“Our Workplace Big Day Out is one of the most popular events on the Inclusion calendar and it’s heartwarming to see how much enjoyment our clients and volunteers get out the day,”

genU Inclusion Manager, Jo Forssman said.

“Several corporate partners help bring these events to life each year and we’re thrilled to be able to continue promoting inclusion in the community with their support.”

Old photo of genU Big Day Out

Our supporters

Thank you to the following Corporate Partners who supported the 2023 Workplace Big Day Out:

  • Adroit
  • Barwon Health
  • Canny Group
  • Coulter Legal
  • Diana Taylor Legal Consulting
  • Harwood Andrews
  • Incitec Pivot
  • McGowan Solutions
  • Morris Finance
  • Sailors Rest
  • Whyte Just Moore

genU would also like to thank:

  • Staff and students from The Grovedale College Sports Academy
  • The Rotary Club of Highton including Brenton Rudd who continue to support the Workplace Big Day Out by cooking the BBQ lunch each year. Brenton cooked the BBQ at the first ever event and was back there yesterday cooking lunch provided by Whyte Just Moore.
  • Luke Tucker, People Experience Coordinator at Geelong Cats for running the Handball Competition Activity.
  • Kaye Coleman from Geelong Wheelchair Basketball who ran the wheelchair basketball activity.

Learn more about genU Inclusion.

*Big Night Out is an annual genU event held in October each year and the Geelong region’s only fully inclusive gala. It brings together people with disability and their family and friends, with corporate partners, genU team members and community groups.