Cairns has played host to the first Healthy Clubs Expo of 2024, aimed at giving community rugby league clubs - and the people who make them thrive - all the tools to succeed this year.
QRL staff, led QRL North region manager Renae Kunst and Cairns area manager Jodi Stevens, delivered important information in person to volunteer administrators at clubs from around Far North Queensland in a one-day expo at Brothers Leagues Club.
The day also featured stalls from QRL medical supplies partner Alpha Sport, Queensland Police Service Recruiting, Cairns Regional Council's Go Clubs team and the Queensland Government Department of Tourism and Sport.
Mareeba Gladiators secretary Tanya Croucher said it was a fantastic opportunity to network with people from other clubs facing the same issues, gain knowledge of QRL support in place, provide feedback and learn about policy updates and grants available.
"It was really good. I've done juniors and seniors, been in some sort of executive role for over 10 years, but haven't done one for quite some time and Jodi, Rachael (Morgan, QRL FNQ league and club coordinator), Renae and Scott (Nosworthy, QRL state infrastructure and grants manager) were really great," she said.
"I just realised how much from, juniors through to seniors, everything has developed and what (the QRL) is rolling out and the purple shirts (Support Squad) and seeing how much the game is evolving.
"I see there's a lot of work around mental health, which is great, and child protection - we didn't have that when I was involved in juniors - so it was really informative for me to see how the juniors and developing and see how that flows through to seniors."
Croucher said one of the biggest learnings came from an education session led by QRL club education coordinator for volunteers, Linda Saunders, highlighting the importance of engaging and acknowledging volunteers and the value of microvolunteering to empower more people at clubs to contribute.
Croucher said she realised her role, with so many responsibilities, could become too big if she tried to tackle it all on her own, but was already feeling the support from people around the club to help her in small ways.
"The blue cards, I'm giving that to another person now, so that will be their contribution. I got a text message this morning asking 'hey Tan, can I do some ordering?' Definitely, you can do that
"That's what I'll be feeding back to my club, it's about these little jobs.
"We're all in the same boat. It was lovely to be appreciated for everything we do, but it's about how do we do it better."
QRL North region manager Renae Kunst said the holistic approach of the expos, which will also visit Townsville, Mackay, Mount Isa and Thursday Island, were designed to best support the volunteers in line with the pillars of QRL's Community Rugby League 2024 Game Plan.
"We've wanted to make these Healthy Club Expos as interactive and engaging as we possibly can while ensuring our valued stakeholders and volunteers take home valuable information," she said.
"We used interactive tools like Kahoot and Mentimeter, we did group workshops to really engage and get feedback from the room. We don't have all the solutions, but we know those volunteers on the ground do, and that gives us an organisation ideas to take back and ensure we're continually listening and supporting those on the ground, because they know it best.
"It was just so refreshing to see people in the room who are highly committed to make their clubs better and providing an opportunity for their people to be engaged in a warm and welcoming environment.
"We realise people took a day out of their lives to come and speak rugby league. That's not something we take for granted."
Club education days will also be taking place across the Central and South East regions leading into the start of their respective competitions.
QRL Healthy Clubs Expo - upcoming events
February 17 - Townsville
February 24 - Mackay
March 10 - Mount Isa
March 23 & 24 - Thursday Island/Torres Strait
Main image: Volunteers from Southern Suburbs junior and senior clubs with QRL state infrastructure and grants manager Scott Nosworthy.