The Deakin Cats Community Centre has become an integral link between the Geelong Cats and the greater Geelong community.
The centre has welcomed just shy of 125,000 visitors through its doors since it opened in 2013, with more than 150 different community organisations using the space.
The Deakin Cats Community Centre is a state-of-the-art 800-square-metre facility located on the ground floor of the Players Stand at GMHBA Stadium. The space is offered for bookings free of charge to community groups in the region who meet the criteria of encouraging active and healthy lifestyles, for all ages and abilities.
It is also the hub of Geelong Cats community programs, with BioCATS - in partnership with BioLAB and supported by Bisinella – and GMHBA Healthy Heroes’ Grade 5/6 Leadership Program running out of the centre.
The centre houses three multipurpose rooms plus the Gartland Heritage Centre and the Sensory Zone.
Leisure Networks was the first community group to use the space, and have been regular visitors ever since.
“It really aligned to the work we do – we do a lot with people in community sports and a lot of work through inclusion and connecting people in the community,” Leisure Networks chief executive officer Libby Mears said.
“Our organisation has really seen the alignment of the values of the Deakin Cats Community Centre with the work we do. By working with the team at the centre, we’ve identified other things we’ve taken on as opportunities and referring people to the centre.”
Deakin University Inclusion Strategy, Engagement and Partnerships manager Peter Osborne said the university recognised the importance of partnerships and placed a priority on shared value.
“Being able to support the Geelong Cats to provide such a large, free space for communities to use, and with a health focus being at its core, helps bring our organisational value of inclusion to life,” Mr Osborne said.
“The Community Centre is all about being in a place where the whole community flourishes and advances through the insights that are gained and shared every day.
“Deakin is extremely proud to support and maintain an environment where people can grow and prosper through access to knowledge and new experiences, where we value our diversity, embrace difference and nurture a connected, safe and respectful community.”
THE SENSORY ZONE
GMHBA Stadium became Australia’s first accredited sensory-inclusive stadium when the Sensory Zone opened in 2019.
The Geelong Cats and Kardinia Park Stadium Trust partnered with US not-for-profit organisation Kulture City to bring the Sensory Zone to life, in an effort to provide a comfortable and inclusive experience for every guest to the stadium.
The Sensory Zone comprises a Sensory Room and Multisensory Room, while Sensory Backpacks are available around the ground on match days.
GARTLAND HERITAGE CENTRE
The Gartland Heritage Centre celebrates Geelong Football Club’s long and proud history. The centre houses the Cats’ memorabilia collection, and hosts dedicated exhibitions.
The latest offering is the Cats Mascot Exhibition, a special exhibition following the journey of the Cats mascot from its roots in a Sam Wells cartoon in The Herald, to Half-Cat and Clawdia as we know them today.
The Gartland Heritage Centre is open to the public on Mondays (except public holidays) between 3.30pm and 5pm.
CATS IN THE COMMUNITY PROGRAMS
The Deakin Cats Community Centre is host to a number of Geelong Cats’ community programs, with GMHBA Healthy Heroes, BioCATS, the All-Abilities Clinic and more making use of the space over the year.
The multipurpose rooms and concourse space provide the ideal location to run activities and information sessions.
GMHBA Health Heroes Grade 5/6 Leadership program runs from the centre, with student leaders from schools around the Geelong region making their way to the stadium for activities and workshops.
The BioCATS program, which is a partnership program between the Geelong Cats and BioLAB, and supported by Bisinella, is held weekly at the centre, with students working through various activity and learning stations as they experience a day in the life of an elite athlete through GPS data tracking and analysis, the skill of handballing and the important of nutrition and hydration, among much more.