Strengthening Connections

Outdoors Queensland - Strengthening Connections

Presentations, Workshops, Discussions, Networking, Tools, Processes

A day of discussion and practical tools to engage people at different stages of their lives to be active participants in outdoor activities and experiences.

The Outdoors Queensland – Strengthening Connections Symposium was held on Friday October 28 at Rydges South Bank in Brisbane.

What was it all about?

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Insights into the current trends, issues and opportunities around participation in outdoor activity – both actual and potential.

Thought provoking conversation designed to prompt strategic thinking on how to tackle emerging challenges and to maximise future opportunities.

Practical tools and examples of other organisations that have managed to attract diverse and/or targeted participation through careful, considered and informed design.

Learning how to encourage people to participate across their lifespan

Knowledge and tools to help people ‘Live Life Outdoors’.

In short, this was a valuable opportunity to get ready for the changing face of outdoor recreation!




Dom Courtney, EO, QORF

Welcome to the Symposium and a review of past connections, learning and experiences

“Everyone you ever meet knows something you don’t”

It Begins with Children, it Continues with Families

It Begins with Children, it Continues with Families

Dr Sue Elliott, Senior Lecturer in Early Childhood Education, University of New England, Armidale

Sue has advocated for natural outdoor playspaces and education for sustainability in the early childhood field and beyond over two decades. Sue is an acknowledged author and researcher in the early childhood field; and, her publications include The Outdoor Playspace Naturally, Sustainability and the Early Years Learning Framework and Research in Early Childhood Education for Sustainability: International perspectives and provocations. She has worked as an educator and/or consultant with the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, Zoos Victoria and the Melbourne Museum and has previously held committee roles with both Play Australia and Standards Australia. Her research interests are in education for sustainability, nature play and ‘Bush Kinder’, an Australian adaptation of Scandinavian forest schools.
In her workshop, Sue will share a wealth of experience and knowledge to explore the benefits of outdoor play and challenge us on how to best engage and enable young children and families to play and learn outdoors – from the importance of directly engaging children in risk management, through to creating strong and positive relationships with the natural world. This interactive workshop will include illustrative examples of current initiatives both local and international.

Turning a Family Inside Out

Turning a Family Inside Out

Madeline Avci, Mother, Occupational Therapist & Director, Barefoot Nature Play

Madeline’s presentation draws on these experiences to give us a snapshot of some of the benefits, challenges and outcomes of enabling her own, and other children, to be active outdoors.

Madeline Avci is an Occupational Therapist and Teacher who has worked with children for over twenty years in Australia, America and Turkey. She is also the mother of three energetic and imaginative boys. Madeline is a big advocate for reducing children’s time in front of screens and providing them with a multisensory childhood by getting them outside. Both at work and through her own children she sees time and time again, the joy in children’s eyes as they rise up to meet the challenges that nature provides.

Madeline is the Director of Jump Up Occupational Therapy, a business that supports children and families to develop independence and resilience in their daily lives. Madeline is also the Director of Barefoot Nature Play Pty Ltd which aims to ignite children’s passion for playing outdoors. Barefoot Nature Play brings together all Madeline’s experience in a way that offers children a ‘just right’ experience in a world that often feels too hurried, stressed and chaotic.

#GetLifelongReady – Engaging adults in outdoor recreation

#GetLifelongReady – Engaging adults in outdoor recreation

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Dr Alana Thomson, Thomson Management Group / QORF

Lifelong participation in recreation activities is widely promoted in our communities due to the range of individual and societal benefits such as improved health and connectedness, and on the flip side – reduced health and welfare costs. However, the trend in declining participation highlights adults and older people continue to face barriers and constraints to their active involvement. One contributor to the low rates of participation in outdoor activities is a lack of participation opportunities which target the entry-level adult market. Opportunities that do exist for this group are often ad hoc and disconnected from our mainstream systems of delivery.

There is a need for the outdoor sector to engage better with adults and to broaden the appeal of outdoor activities so people can reap the benefits; and so the sector remains relevant and valued in our communities. Through the support of Medibank, QORF developed an industry development resource to equip outdoor providers with information and tools to develop and deliver participation opportunities for adults. This presentation will provide an overview of our #GetLifelongReady Online Toolkit and showcase some of the key learnings on how to implement these in your organisations and activities.

Dr Alana Thomson is passionate about encouraging active participation in grassroots recreation and sport. Her experiences as a senior school student involved with the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games not only got her out of double periods of maths, but also opened her eyes to the potential impacts such an event can have on a host city.

Alana is leisure management alumni of the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). Alana’s research and professional activities have focused on the role of physical activity and large-scale events in the community, and in particular, the legacies to be realised across the recreation and sport sector. Her PhD investigated the sport development legacies of the Sydney 2009 World Masters Games, and highlighted the importance of organisational readiness and collaboration in facilitating legacies to sport.

Alana has walked the colourful and sometimes challenging path between academic research and industry practice, to bring the best of both worlds together and to develop solutions for contemporary issues across our community facing active participation in recreation and sport. Her work features in academic and industry publications and has informed a number of industry research and strategy projects. Her key interests include active participation, inclusive programming, organisational capacity and organisational collaboration.

Change the language to connect your tribe. A new take on Landcare

Change the language to connect your tribe
A new take on Landcare

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Naomi Edwards, Co-Founder of Intrepid Landcare

What does language have to do with protecting Australia’s environment? The world occurs in language and language is how we communicate the world. Given that Australia’s environment is under unprecedented impact with climate change and other human-induced impacts, how we communicate these impacts and the call to action to overcome environmental challenges has never been more significant. This is particularly true for nature-based industries, for instance, outdoor recreation, where industry opportunities rely on the health, resilience and beauty of the natural environment. No one wants to visit an eroded beach, bleached reef, or degraded forest. Therefore, to balance the needs of the environment and the desires to be immersed in nature requires attention and action, which can Landcare offer.

Landcare is a national movement founded 30 years ago to bridge politicians, farmers and conservationists to get serious about how Australia’s land and water was managed. Now 30 years on, a new conversation is emerging and that is how to engage the younger generation, aged 16 – 30 something, in one of Australia’s more traditional approaches to environment management. Intrepid Landcare specifically focuses on this challenge, in fact, was inevitably founded as a national organisation due the co-founders on-going success to fill this gap. Intrepid Landcare is not your usual on the ground ‘Landcare group’. Intrepid Landcare is an adventurous organisation that empowers young people to lead on stuff that matters by providing a common space to inspire, connect and empower young people to act and lead with Landcare. This is achieved by changing the language of Landcare to speak to young people and be heard by young people. Being run by young people for young people, Intrepid Landcare has been able to answer what young people want – connection, no commitment and adventure – and has cleverly marketed sold out events that offer a unique experience, a backstage pass to nature.

This presentation will give a rapid run down on Intrepid Landcare’s approach to changing traditional language to tribal language to capture the curiosity of young people, and engage them in nature-based activities and Landcare.


Naomi Edwards is an infectiously inspiring community mobiliser from the Gold Coast, QLD. She has been a leader in the Landcare movement for 10 years, being instrumental in creating transformative engagement opportunities for communities to get involved in environmental initiatives.

She holds a Bachelor of Environmental Science, Bachelor of Communications with First Class Honours, Masters of International and Community Development and is a leader for sustainability graduate from the United Nations University. More recently she is on the PhD journey to discover how to overcome the constraints of the coastal management profession.

Queensland National Parks - Outside and Active for the Whole Life

Queensland National Parks – Outside and Active for the Whole Life

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Jason Jacobi, Executive Director, Dept of National Parks, Sport & Racing

Jason’s presentation highlights the approach Queensland National Parks are making to provide access to the outdoors, nature, recreation and conservation through the Parks Estate, for people of all ages.


Jason has over 20 years’ experience across environmental management disciplines, working in both the private and public sectors.

After 7 years running his own landscape architectural and environmental planning consultancy in Central Queensland during the early 90’s, Jason joined local government as the Manager of Parks and Recreation.

In early 2000, Jason commenced a senior leadership role in the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service and was the Regional Director for park operations in South East Queensland, before taking on the role of Director – Strategy and Policy with the then Department of Environment and Resource Management. In this role, Jason led the park management planning process for protected areas in Queensland, with a focus on increasing outdoor recreational opportunity.

Jason is now the Executive Director for Northern Parks and Forests in the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing. He manages several hundred protected areas and state forests from the South Australia border, to the Northern Territory border and Cape York Peninsula; and leads a team of rangers and technical specialists, delivering conservation, tourism, recreation and access for public benefit and enjoyment.

He has been instrumental in several major outdoor recreation events and initiatives during this time, including the World Cup Mountain biking championships at Smithfield Conservation Park and other regional trail investments such as those at Cape Pallarenda and Atherton. He is a passionate outdoors enthusiast, and is an advocate for sustainable active recreation in natural environments.

Panel Discussion / Q&A: Language, Outreach & Policy

Panel Discussion / Q&A: Language, Outreach & Policy

Panellists: Sue Elliot,  Naomi Edwards, Jason Jacobi, Damian O’Sullivan (ICC)

Active Ageing Outdoors

Active Ageing Outdoors

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Shane Pegg, Tourism Cluster, School of Business, University of Queensland

Canoeing Across the Ages

Canoeing Across the Ages

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Greg Denny, Executive Officer Queensland Canoeing

Greg is an experienced sport and recreation manager, and the current EO of Queensland Canoeing. In this role he has oversight of the programs delivered by paddle related clubs and plays a role in driving the organisations community participation initiatives as well as other recreation and skill development programs.

In this presentation Greg will highlight how and why Queensland Canoeing are continuing to expand and consolidate their attraction and quality of service to people of all ages and skills; and profile some successful initiatives they have implemented to encourage more people to take up or continue their paddle activities.

Girls and Women Outdoors for Life

Girls and Women Outdoors for Life

 Velia Nichols, State Commissioner, Guides Queensland

In this presentation Velia will talk about the different ways girls and women are involved in the Guiding movement over the course of their lives. Not just confined to young children, Girl Guides is active and intentional in offering a lifetime of opportunity to Guiding – as participants, as leaders, as children, as adults, as mentors, as local or international representatives.
Velia is the current State Commissioner of Girl Guides Queensland; and the Director of Courage to Speak. Her business is entering its 17th  year. She has a wealth of experience in developing human and organisational resources and strives to help people to improve their performance by challenging themselves.
Communicating value in a world of irrationality

Communicating value in a world of irrationality

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Sibel Korhaliller, Communications and Marketing Manager at Alzheimer’s Australia (Queensland).

Sibel has worked in communications and marketing in the not-for-profit sector for the last five years and is a big advocate of creating effective communication programs that inspire, educate and get people talking. Competing for people’s attention is becoming increasingly difficult, with consumers bombarded with information 24/7, but as funding continues to shrink, not-for-profits need to find a way to stand out in the eye of the consumers and remain relevant – creating awareness is no longer enough. Sibel will cover a few simple tips to get you focusing your communication programs on providing value to the right people and share some interesting insights around the irrational process of how we perceive value as consumers.

Panel Discussion / Q&A: Taking ideas to Action

Panel Discussion / Q&A:  Taking ideas to Action

How do we engage across the life course?
What drives program decisions?
What can we do that makes a difference?

Panellists: Alana Thomson, Chris Schmidt (Way To Be)

(more panellists, detail coming soon)

Other Sessions Covered:

  • Things that are working: snapshots of organisations and spaces that are enabling participation across the different stages;
  • Communicating across the social demographic divides;
  • Action: how to go from ideas, to intentions, to implementation.

Become a member

We welcome applications for new Community and Green Circle Members from organisations and individuals involved in the outdoors

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Tail Lights by Georgina Pratten