An Historic Partnership: TAFE Queensland and the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018) will be the largest sporting event Australia will see this decade and the biggest sporting spectacular the Gold Coast has ever seen. With just under a year to go until over 6,600 athletes and team officials from 70 nations and territories converge on the Gold Coast for the 11 day sporting and cultural event, preparations are well under way across the region and state.

Shortly after the Gold Coast was chosen as the venue for the 2018 Games, TAFE Queensland began negotiating a partnership with the Games which would ensure the best opportunities, benefits and lasting memories for the growing city and region from an education, training and development perspective.

With the agreement between TAFE Queensland and the Games finalised in early February 2016, the stage was set to plan for a dream series of activities and projects that would benefit Games project management, TAFE Queensland and the population of the Gold Coast now and for the future.

TAFE Queensland Chief Executive Officer Jodi Schmidt said the partnership was a unique opportunity to provide students, staff and the local community with a broad range of skills that will build employability and support growth in the region.

‘This is an event that will permanently transform the Gold Coast and the south-east corner, creating opportunities for decades to come by allowing the region to really come of age and demonstrate what Queenslanders are capable of,’ says Jodi.

The partnership involves many pillars with a vast number of different projects for volunteers, students and staff to become involved with.

Applications to become a volunteer with the Games were open for 6 weeks from 6 January to 20 March this year. The response from applicants has been extraordinary, with over 47,000 applicants from 117 countries, all keen for the opportunity to be a part of the historic event. The first interviews commenced at the Volunteer Selection Centre on 3 May this year, with approximately 5000 interviews having taken place to date. Of the 47,000 applications only 15,000 we be required come Games time, so unfortunately not everyone will get through. The quality of applications to date has been high and the response from applicants overwhelmingly positive.

‘We want everyone who is involved as a volunteer with the project to be passionate about Queensland or the Games,’ says Jodi.

As GOLDOC sifts through the applications for the most qualified and enthusiastic volunteers, the planning around their development will involve important events leading up to the Games including a weekend of orientation to welcome and educate those who have made it through the rigorous selection process. Following the formal selection, up to 15,000 volunteers will receive customised training by TAFE Queensland which includes role and venue specific training delivered as part of the contemporary, modern and innovative program.

‘We want to keep the volunteers as actively engaged as possible from the very beginning of their involvement with the Games through to the event in April. This is a long commitment for those who are chosen, and we want them to stay the course and have the most rewarding experience possible,’ says Jodi.

Leading up to and during the Games there will also be an enormous amount of opportunities that promise to be engaging and rewarding for both the staff and students of TAFE Queensland.

‘There amount of job opportunities throughout the Gold Coast and indeed the entire state at the moment is extraordinary. There is so much happening in the construction industry on the Gold Coast, we are seeing a lot of apprentice opportunities come through for our students which is incredibly exciting not only for our students, but also state as a whole. The infrastructure and connections being made now are coming together for the future of the city,’ says Jodi.

Local arts, design and client services students will be given a number of exciting opportunities to make their mark within the Games Village, from being encouraged to set up their own salons within the Village, to having the privilege of seeing their creative work come to life in front of thousands of visitors from around the world.

The daily mechanics of the training partnership has fallen in the capable hands of Catherine Munro-Browne, Project Manager at TAFE Queensland. Catherine is ensuring that all the pieces work together to create the best experience for TAFE Queensland students, staff and volunteers.

For Catherine and her team, the opportunities that have come with the Games being an integral part of TAFE Queensland students’ learning experiences have also come with their own challenges.

‘The opportunities for student learning are exceptional during these type of partnerships. The challenge for the teaching staff has been integrating the activities happening around the Games into the students’ learning and curriculums.

‘We need to be really responsive to what is happening with the planning and organising around the Games and be able to get these opportunities out to the students to take advantage to enhance their own development.

‘While doing this, we also need to make sure there are elements to these activities and opportunities that satisfy the marking schemes for their qualifications. Our teachers need to be flexible and constantly working to find creative solutions, working with the organising committee to make these experiences meaningful for the students in different skills,’ Catherine explains.

As Games time draws nearer, it’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement of the event, ‘We are so proud to be demonstrating how we can deliver a bespoke training program in conjunction with Games,’ says Catherine.

As the first regional Australian city to ever host a Commonwealth Games, the Gold Coast will celebrate a great Games in a great city leaving great memories and great benefits for all. The city will shine on the world sporting stage and the promotional exposure for business, trade, investment, tourism and events will herald a new era in the region’s growth and maturity. With an expected 1.2 million spectators, athletes from 70 participating nations and territories and a cumulative global TV audience of 1.5 billion people, the world will truly be tuned into the Gold Coast in April 2018.