Award-winning hiking program walks the talk

The positive impact of Scenic Rim Regional council’s hiking program on participants and the outdoor recreation sector has been recognised with a second major award.

EmpowHER, which offered more than 900 outdoor recreational opportunities to encourage participation in hiking by women and girls in the spectacular Scenic Rim, has added the Government Achievement Award presented at the recent Outdoors Queensland Awards to its accolades.

Scenic Rim Mayor Greg Christensen said the award highlighted the EmpowHER Hiking Program’s value in creating opportunities for positive outdoor experiences for participants of all ages and abilities.

“I am most proud of the recognition of a program that has been transformational in its impact for women and girls, mothers and daughters,” he said.

“We know from the results of their participation in this program that it has given them greater confidence, not only in hiking in our spectacular region but also in wider aspects of life.”

The Outdoors Queensland Award follows EmpowHER’s win in the Programs and Activities Category at the 2022 Australian Sport, Recreation and Play Innovation Awards in Melbourne in July.

Celebrating excellence in the outdoor recreation community, the Outdoors Queensland Awards recognise the importance of the outdoors, outdoor activity and the environment to Queenslanders’ lifestyle.

Funded by the Queensland Government’s ActiveKIT program, in partnership with Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Scenic Rim Regional Council, EmpowHER achieved its aim of increasing the physical activity of women and girls by reducing barriers of participation in hiking.

The innovative program offered guided hikes at a subsidised price of just $15, providing 78 guided walks catering for a range of abilities, from February to July 2022.

It capitalised on current trends in sports participation, offering women and girls the flexibility to participate in an unstructured activity at a time and location that suited them and responded to changes within the active recreation industry as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic increased the demand for nature-based activities.

“Scenic Rim Regional Council is proud to share EmpowHER’s success with our partners – ParkTours, O’Reilly’s Rainforest Retreat and Mt Barney Lodge – who delivered the program to the highest standards,” Mayor Christensen said.

Program lead, Council’s Principal Specialist Community Development Kathy Forrest, who accepted the award on behalf of Council on Friday night, said that she was very proud of the hard work that the project team had committed over the past 18 months to designing, planning and implementing the EmpowHER program.

“The response to EmpowHER and its outcomes far exceeded Council’s expectations, with 87 per cent of the tickets selling before the program commenced in February and participation by some 408 individuals, most of whom booked more than one hike.”

“Participants ranged in age from 10 to 76, enjoying a variety of graded hikes that catered for all ability levels, from those who had never taken part in in hiking to more experienced enthusiasts.

“We hope the legacy of EmpowHER will be in encouraging more people to experience the outdoors in spectacular settings across the Scenic Rim,” Kathy said.

“My thanks to Outdoors Queensland for hosting the awards, which have highlighted the great work that is being achieved in the outdoor recreation industry.”