Community is at the heart of our industry

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By Greyhounds Australasia CEO Cherie Nicholl

As we approach the end of a very challenging year, we have been reflecting on how the jurisdictions support their local communities through contributions to charities in their states. Supporting community is important for the controlling bodies and as a result of the incredible work that our entire industry has done to maintain racing programs throughout 2020, this has been possible.

In WA, a tri-code jurisdiction, where the racing and wagering businesses are combined it’s the TAB brand that drives the corporate social responsibility at RWWA. In 2019/20, Community TAB provided $233,000 in funding to community groups through various partnerships and initiatives.

Community TAB’s main partnership is with HorsePower Australia, a not-for-profit organisation that provides activities for people with disabilities, utilising horses to develop new skills and combat challenges. Community TAB also partners with race clubs to fundraise for local community groups at race day. In 2019/20 over $107,000 was raised for local groups through that program.

Community TAB has recently launched a second sports grants program to support grassroots sporting clubs. The first program saw $168,000 of grants go to regional and metropolitan clubs. Lifeline WA has also been a long-term partner of Community TAB where Community TABs support has funded the training of more volunteers working in their crisis centre.

Community TAB also partners with TAB agencies to collect donations to support not-for-profit organisations such as the RSLWA. Other partnerships of Community TAB include Sport West and Team Teal.

In the Sunshine State, the lingering effects of flood, fire, and drought – not just COVID-19 – have had a significant and adverse impact.

To assist the industry during this time, Racing Queensland has supported a variety of charities over the past 12 months including the Queensland Country Women’s Association, Share The Dignity, Young Care, The Smith Family, Cancer Council Queensland and most recently, Smart Pups.

Based on the Sunshine Coast, Smart Pups is a not-for-profit organisation which provides assistance dogs to children with special needs.

Trained in task-specific skills, Smart Pups improve the independence and quality of life for impacted children.

This unique form of early intervention therapy has a profound effect on the day-to-day lives of children and families … making a positive change that keeps growing over time.

RQ also conducted its ‘1 for the Bush’ fundraising campaign, generating more than $50,000 for the QCWA’s Public Rural Crisis Fund.

Under the 1 for the Bush initiative, the nation’s biggest betting operators – Tabcorp, Ladbrokes, Sportsbet and BetEasy – agreed to match RQ’s contribution dollar for dollar, ensuring a $5000 windfall every time the number one saluted across the state over a designated weekend.

Queensland Racing is also a tri-code jurisdiction and recently the Queensland racing industry rallied behind the Bush Fire Appeal, with more than $1.1 million raised during the Magic Millions yearling sale and raceday on the Gold Coast.

In South Australia, GRSA has maintained its partnerships with the Little Heroes Foundation (LHF) and Operation Flinders (OF), both organisations having been founded upon the need to care for young South Australians suffering from illness or hardship.

In an Australian first, young South Australian cancer patients will soon form part of an international registry, which aims to better inform radiation treatments and help counter long-term side effects. The collaboration between the Radiation Oncology Department at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and its American partners has been made possible by way of a grant from The Little Heroes Foundation, funded by GRSA. The research grant has enabled the Radiation Oncology Department to recruit Research Nurse Kelly Skelton onto the project.

“It is great for Greyhound Racing SA to be able to financially support the preparation of the Proton Therapy Centre in SAMRI 2. Little Heroes Foundation do excellent work in helping seriously ill South Australian children and we are extremely proud to support this great South Australian charity,” said Grantley Stevens, Greyhound Racing SA Chairman.

In January 2020, GRSA also formed a partnership with Novita, one of South Australia’s largest and most respected community-based disability service organisations, supporting clients of all ages. On non-racing nights, GRSA provides Novita with access to Chasers Restaurant to run bingo events. Such events form an important part of Novita’s fundraising efforts, helping them to support clients in Adelaide and regional South Australia.

Victorian greyhound racing’s biggest charity initiative is the annual TAB Great Chase which has now donated nearly $700,000 to hundreds of disability and aged care groups across the State over the past 18 years. The Great Chase Community Days, hosted by each of Victoria’s 13 greyhound racing clubs, also give these groups a memorable day at the races.

Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) partners with Crocmedia to present the Chase for Charity on the weekly ‘Off The Bench’ radio show where the hosts each place $500 provided by GRV on greyhound races with all winnings donated to Victorian charities, raising almost $120,000 since 2017.

GRV has also long been a contributor to the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Good Friday Appeal Fund and this year took part again in ‘Neil’s Wheel’ raising more than $18,000, driven mainly by donations from Victoria’s greyhound racing community.

In response to the Victorian bushfires in late 2019 and early 2020, GRV’s Go the Red Dog campaign raised $100,000 for the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. In May 2020, GRV’s Go the Blue Dog campaign donated $6,000 to the Police Legacy Remembrance Fund in honour of the four Victorian police officers who lost their lives in a tragic crash on April 22, 2020.

Like many jurisdictions, Greyhound Racing NSW is on the front foot whenever there is any natural disaster, catastrophe, or devastation of any type in their State.

During the bushfires earlier this year, GRNSW were on the ground with their local clubs, providing financial and physical support to those in need, working with local clubs around evacuation plans and centres to home animals and their owners. GRNSW also recently donated more than $22,000 to the Rural Fire Service in both the Goulburn and Shoalhaven regions, two of the hardest hit areas last summer, the result of a fund-raising campaign known as the Red & Yellow Bushfire Appeal.

It was a similar situation during recent floods in the Central West of NSW, helping a number of participants who struggled during that time, and GRNSW is regularly in contact and offering help to numerous participants who may at times endure difficulties due to the elements.

GRNSW and their club network are always big supporters of fund raising events and functions, most notably in 2020 the one for the Atkins family, who devastatingly lost three children in a house fire in Singleton, and another for the family of young Group 1 winning trainer Troy Donaldson, who tragically passed away aged just 38.

And apart from their own organised events and adoption days the GAP NSW team is constantly in the community participating in charity events.

As you can see, the jurisdictions are absolutely committed to supporting local communities and those in need and disadvantaged, and this is just a snapshot of the work that is done every year.  Community is an intrinsic part of our industry and a big part of who we are.  The way we support each other, work together, and lift those that need a hand is in our DNA.

As we sign off for 2020, on behalf of the GA team and the Directors, I would like to thank you for all you have done in difficult circumstances through challenging times. The commitment and resilience that has been demonstrated across the board has been nothing short of incredible and inspiring.

Wishing you and your loved ones a safe, happy, and relaxing Festive Season.

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