In an Australian first, Geelong Cats match days and major events produced by Kardinia Park Stadium Trust will be accredited as sensory inclusive at GMHBA Stadium. The stadium will now have the only permanent sensory zone, for all events, in the country.
With its new certification, the Geelong Cats and Kardinia Park Stadium Trust is now better prepared to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event.
Sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation are often experienced by individuals with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions. One of the major barriers for these individuals is sensitivity to over-stimulation and noise, which is an enormous part of the environment in a venue like GMHBA Stadium.
Sensory bags, equipped with noise canceling headphones, fidget tools and verbal cue cards will also be available to all guests at three locations around the ground for guests who may feel overwhelmed by the environment. These fans will also be able to visit a dedicated Sensory Room including a quiet space and a multi-sensory room with equipment donated by BCYF and Percy Baxter Perpetual Trust.
The certification process entailed training over 500 staff at the Geelong Cats, KPST plus customer service and security staff by leading medical professionals on how to recognise those guests and fans with sensory needs and how to handle a sensory overload situation.
The sensory space has been trialed over the first two AFL match days at GMHBA Stadium this season, with over 20 families utilizing the space.
“This initiative allows for more individuals and families to be able to enjoy our great game of Australian Rules football,” Geelong Cats CEO Brian Cook said.
“To have seen the impact that this zone has already had over two games has been extraordinary. It has changed the accessibility of our game. Now more people can attend and enjoy AFL football. This is a game changing initiative and one that we have been working on for close to two years.
“So many groups have supported the club and come together to bring this to life. This permanent structure will benefit users of the stadium on non-AFL event days as well, and it will be available throughout the year.
“We thank our partners Kane Constructions for undertaking the building works for free, BCYF donating close to $100,000 in equipment, KultureCity for its expert guidance and international perspective, Untapped Group for its funding and focus on the strengths of our fans. The Geelong Cats would love to see this new facility as standard practice at all stadiums in Australia.”
The Kardinia Park Stadium Trust believes the initiative further enhances Geelong’s standing as an innovative city.
“Geelong is setting the benchmark when it comes to being a creative and forward-thinking city,” Michael Malouf, Chair, Kardinia Park Stadium Trust said.
“GMHBA Stadium is an incredibly important part of our community and we are proud to partner with the Geelong Football Club to lead the way with this world class inclusive initiative.
“From AFL and the A-League, to community events such as Festival of Sport and Movie Night, it is of the upmost importance to the Trust to provide all guests a safe, positive and comfortable experience at the Stadium all year round.
“Today we join some of the world’s leading Stadiums by becoming Sensory Inclusive accredited. This is something the whole Geelong community can truly be proud of.”
KultureCity know first-hand the difference that the sensory space will make to people attending events at GMHBA stadium.
“To know that you will be able to see families attend a football game or major event, a true community binding experience, with their loved ones who have a sensory challenge and who were not able to previously attend, is truly a heartwarming moment,” Uma Srivastava, COO KultureCity said.
“Our communities are what shapes our lives and to know this community is willing to go the extra mile to ensure that everyone, no matter their ability, is included is amazing.”
The Untapped Group, led by Director and Co-Founder Gerard Blood have supported the creation of the Sensory Zone.
“It is a great honour to be part of creating this Sensory Zone that creates a sensory inclusive space to provide universal accessibility for any person with a sensory issue including autistic people,” Blood said.
“Untapped Group leverages the talents of autistic people in software testing and cybersecurity for the Australian Government and for banks. This partnership enables us to support a significant number of people being able to enjoy a football game, or other event, at the stadium in the knowledge that they will have somewhere to go if they need to retreat to a quiet space.“
Notes to editor
The Geelong Cats and Kardinia Park Stadium Trust has partnered with US-based not for profit organization KultureCity plus Deakin University, BCYF, Barwon Paediatric Services, Leisure Networks, Gateways Support Services, NDIS, Latrobe Community Health, G21, City of Greater Geelong, Armstrong Creek School, Diversitat, Hope Bereavement Services and Untapped Groupto ensure that match days and other major events will promote an accommodating and positive experience for all guests and fans with a sensory issue that visits stadium.
About Geelong Cats
The Geelong Football Club is celebrating its 160th anniversary, having been formed in 1859. One of the elite clubs in the Australian Football League, the club prides itself on its commitment to the community. The sensory project further enhances the club’s inclusiveness so that as many people as possible can enjoy a day at the football.
About Kardinia Park Stadium Trust
The Kardinia Park Stadium Trust is a statutory authority established under the Kardinia Park Stadium Act 2016. The Trust has been established to administer, promote and manage the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust Land, with an overarching objective of contributing to the economic, community and livability benefits to Geelong, that arise from the use of the Stadium.
KultureCity is a leading non-profit recognized nationwide for using their resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs; not just those with Autism. Since the program’s inception, KultureCity has created over 200 sensory inclusive venues in 3 countries; this includes special events such as: NFL Pro-Bowl, NFL Super Bowl, MLB All Star Weekend. KultureCity has won many awards for its efforts: NASCAR Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award in 2017, Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quiet Space Sensory Room at Quicken Loans Arena was a finalist for the 2018 Stadium Business Award, and the 2018 Clio Sports Silver for social good in partnership with Cleveland Cavaliers/Quicken Loans Arena. Recently, KultureCity was awarded one of the World’s Most Innovative Companies for 2019 by FastCompany.
About Untapped Group
Untapped Group is a social enterprise focused on developing a neurodiverse employment ecosystem to increase opportunities for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other neurodiverse variations thereby realising their untapped potential. For more information, visit untapped-group.com.
Our mission is to build high-performing teams from groups of highly-skilled individuals. We are passionate about identifying commercially-compelling opportunities in organisations for neurodiverse teams and uncovering extraordinary individuals to form those teams.
Part of this is the Neurodiversity Hub initiative – developing a co-curricular programme designed to help students become more work ready and increase their chances of securing a job and a career. It is also about partnering with employers to assist them in developing their neurodiverse employment programmes. For more information, visit neurodiversityhub.org.
The identification of this untapped talent is being achieved through the Neurodiversity Hub and other partnerships and, in conjunction with world-leading partners, by applying cutting-edge testing and assessment techniques without formal interviews.
We don’t just find jobs, we develop careers. We use online testing to identify strengths, place candidates into teams (pods) and provide training for our clients as well as the new recruits. We support the new recruits so they can be exceptional.