View all news

University prepares to take on the Challenge


30 March 2009
Entering corporate teams in events such as the Kokoda Challenge can improve communication and cooperation within an organisation as well as enhancing the relationship of a business with the community, according to Southern Cross University academic Associate Professor Michelle Wallace.

As University staff prepare to take part in the gruelling 96km event either as entrants or support crew, Professor Wallace provided reassurance that all the effort was well worthwhile.

“These sorts of events can build bridges within an organisation – particularly when, as is the case at Southern Cross University, staff are scattered across a number of work sites,” said Professor Wallace.

“The Kokoda Challenge is a particularly good event because staff have the opportunity to get involved either as support crew or as competitors, so it is not limited just to those who have a very high level of fitness.

“It actually melds a diverse range of staff together in a very supportive way – and is also a great way for the organisation to express its corporate social responsibility.”

Southern Cross University is the education partner for the Kokoda Challenge Association and has also entered teams in the event for the last two years. Two teams are registered this year under the names ‘Southern Cross Uni Rocks’ and ‘SCU Star Trekkers’, both of which are also fundraising for the Kokoda Kids youth charity.

Intense training has commenced in earnest with teams in the event meeting on the first Sunday of every month to walk a section of the track, aiming to build up from a light 14km stroll to a more challenging 40km trek.

But the training doesn’t stop there, with each participant undertaking an up to 10 extra hours of training a week. Some team members have taken to piggy backing their children up and down hills in the Tweed as part of their training, while others joke they ‘wouldn’t put their shoes on for a walk less than two hours long.’

Linda Svenson, Southern Cross University marketing manager - promotions and support and first-time participant in the Challenge, said despite the physical challenges she could already vouch for the benefits.

“It’s been a great opportunity to get to know people I don’t normally mix with as part of my duties at work in a totally different setting,” said Ms Svenson.

“Some staff who are not involved in the Challenge have joined us on some of our monthly walks just for moral support, so it has involved an even wider range of people.

“There’s great camaraderie - and of course we are all getting very fit.”

Southern Cross University staff taking part in the Kokoda Challenge include Linda Svenson; Jak Carroll, course coordinator, Diploma of Sport Management (Surfing Studies); Steve McFarlane, HR manager, workplace health & safety; Jenny Boase, administration officer; SCU alumnus Kristy Garbett; Renee Valk Administrative Assistant; Robert Baglin, Technical Officer, as well as staff friends and family.

Photo: (L-R) Linda Svenson, Jak Carroll and Jenny Boase (high resolution image available on request)

Media contact: Zuleika Henderson, media officer, Southern Cross University Gold Coast and Tweed Heads: 07 5506 9385 or 0408 644533