As Games fever started to infiltrate Southeast Queensland in the early days and weeks of the year, the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation (GOLDOC) was wrestling with an overabundance of applicants for volunteer roles.
More than 50,000 applications were received for 15,000 positions, with close to half of these assigned to doctors and paramedics, whose specialist medical expertise was prioritised in the selection process.
The success and effect of the volunteer effort at GC2018 is the focus of a Griffith Business School research project, led by Dr Liz Fredline at the Department of Tourism, Sport and Hotel Management.
She teamed up with Griffith colleagues Professor Graham Cuskelly and Dr Shane Barry, and with Dr Pam Kappelides from La Trobe University, to explore the motives, expectations and satisfaction of volunteers at Australia’s largest sporting event in 2018.
“Our main aim was to understand why people volunteer,” Dr Fredline said.
“We’re looking at it from two perspectives: how the managers manage the volunteers and how the volunteers like being managed.
“The research goal is to understand which types of volunteers are likely to go on to other types of volunteering after the Games, and how management can help to promote this to generate social capital in the community.”
The researchers also anticipate key findings and best practices identified by the project to inform and help event organisers and community organisations in Queensland who rely on volunteers.
“While attracting volunteers to a mega sporting event like GC2018 is not difficult, for small sporting and community organisations, it can be a challenge on a more regular basis,” Dr Fredline said.
“We are hoping to learn more about how other smaller-scale events can build and maintain a supply of volunteers. If we could get people to volunteer with other types of organisations on a more regular basis, that would be a legacy of the Games.”