‘Kim barne barre Wadawurrung D ja. Welcome to Wadawurrung county!’ In brilliant sunshine and to the accompaniment of Norm Stanley’s emotive didgeridoo, Corrina Eccles, traditional custodian and Wadawurrung woman, welcomed us to the inaugural Humans in Geelong Expo 2017. The Expo, held at Deakin University Waterfront Campus promised a day full of inspiration, music, laughter and sharing. The Humans in Geelong Expo did not disappoint.
One of Humans in Geelong’s tenets is, ‘We aim to inspire’, and inspiration was very much the feature of the day. A hard working, voluntary and creative Expo team packed the program with an impressive range of thought-provoking speakers, workshops and performers all designed to make you think, feel, meditate, smile and often, laugh out loud.
Humans in Geelong is the brain-child of Jacqui Bennett who after receiving three different sets of bad news, awoke one restless night thinking, “‘I’m sick of all this bad news, I want to focus on the good news’. I’d been following Humans In Melbourne on Facebook and was uplifted by their positive stories and thought ‘I want to write Humans in Geelong’. The encouragement I received from family and friends made it happen.” Jacqui, a Primary School teacher, had been looking for a way to make a difference.
Humans in Geelong comprises a small team of ‘Not-for-Profit’ volunteers who report on the ‘good news’ stories of Geelong, and its environs. The stories are about the everyday humans who are taking action, one way or another, and making a difference. This includes shedding light on causes, however small, that may not be covered in the mainstream media. Stories showcase creativity, sustainable practices and the opportunities within our region.
That was just over a year ago, and today, the Humans in Geelong Facebook site has showcased over 150 inspiring stories and boasts more than 7,000 followers. With the success of the Facebook page assured, the team decided, in celebration, to hold an Expo. All those who had profiled in the feel-good stories were invited to participate. The reasoning behind the #humansingeelongexpo was many-fold. Not only was it to celebrate a diverse range of locals who are taking action to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally and at the same time creating a better world for our children, it also offered opportunities for participants to network, inspire, promote and explain their services to the public, whilst acknowledging the importance of each and every role.
If it aided in raising the profile of Humans in Geelong and helped to spread ‘Good News’ and, therefore, inspire others to make a difference, all the better.
A supportive Expo team was formed, the date and venue set, and sponsors identified, these included the City of Greater Geelong, Victoria, Geelong Connected Communities, Snap Geelong Printing and Deakin University. The planning of the Expo began.
Deakin University was a proud sponsor. Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane den Hollander formally opened the Expo and said it was wonderful how the community has embraced the Humans in Geelong project and Expo, noting that, ‘our key strength in Geelong is when we come together.’ She also commended the role of volunteers who make celebrations like this possible and whose aspirations align so well with Deakin and Geelong in general. Jane was encouraged by the hands-on nature of the Expo where, in this digital age where much communication is expressed on screen, the Expo allowed us to come together in a variety of spaces and talk, connect, share and help each other. She also added that it was an honour that the Expo was part of Mental Health Week 2017.