Hiking program in the running for second award

A hiking program which achieved national recognition for empowering women and girls to explore the spectacular Scenic Rim while building fitness and confidence is now in the running for a second award.

EmpowHER participants enjoyed the magic of Cronan Creek Cascades among the series of hikes in the popular program.

After winning the Programs and Activities Award at the 2022 Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards in Melbourne in July, Scenic Rim Regional Council’s EmpowHER Hiking Program has been nominated as a finalist in the Outdoors Queensland Awards to be announced later this month.

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the program’s nomination for the Government Achievement Award category recognises its educational value, community involvement, inclusivity – creating opportunities for positive outdoor experiences for participants of all ages and abilities – and successful promotion.

“The program aimed to increase the physical activity of women and girls by reducing barriers to participation such as affordability, time flexibility, transport and self-motivation,” he said.

“The promotion of EmpowHER proved so successful that 87 per cent of tickets were sold before the commencement of the program in February 2022.”

The innovative program offered guided hikes at a subsidised price for participants in an initiative jointly funded by the Queensland Government’s ActiveKIT program in partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Scenic Rim Regional Council.

“Seventy-eight guided walks, catering for a range of abilities, were provided from February to July 2022, with each hike costing only $15 per person,” Mayor Christensen said.

“More than 800 opportunities were created for women and girls to experience the outdoors in spectacular settings across the Scenic Rim and, with most participants booking more than one hike, some 408 individuals were involved in the program.”

Program participants ranged in age and ability level, with the youngest aged 10 and the eldest aged 76. A variety of graded hikes was offered, catering for all ability levels from those who had never participated in hiking to more experienced enthusiasts.

EmpowHER capitalised on current trends in sports participation, offering females the flexibility to participate in unstructured activity at a time and location that suits them.

It also responded to changes within the active recreation industry, with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic increasing the demand for nature-based activities.

“By attracting new clients and visitors to the Scenic Rim, EmpowHER also supported our outdoor recreation operators and the wider community in the economic recovery following COVID-19,” Mayor Christensen said.

“Economic outcomes for Scenic Rim businesses were supported by the establishment of local industry partnerships, with tour, transport, catering and accommodation operators.

“Our delivery partners ParkTours, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and Mount Barney Lodge, who are passionate about sharing the wonders of our magnificent natural environment, have been key to the success of EmpowHER.”

EmpowHER’s 78 guided hikes were offered across 45 trail locations to minimise the impact to the Scenic Rim’s national park trails and participants were educated by guides on the importance of environmental sustainability and leaving nothing behind but footprints.

“While we look forward to the announcement of the award on Friday 28 October, the EmpowHER program has already proved itself a winner with our local community and visitors to the region,” Mayor Christensen said.