Sensory Zone and Sensory Backpacks

In an Australian first, major events produced by Kardinia Park Stadium Trust and Geelong Cats match days will be accredited as sensory inclusive at GMHBA Stadium.

For most, attending a sporting event such as an AFL match is an exciting experience. However, for some people with sensory sensitivities or challenges with sensory regulation, such as those with autism, dementia, PTSD and other similar conditions, attending such events can be loud and crowded. Attending events like this can be overwhelming and this is why it can sometimes be easier for parents and carers to avoid these places altogether.

By partnering with US non-profit KultureCity to become an accredited Sensory Inclusive Stadium we aim to create an inclusive experience for every guest and improve our ability to assist guests with sensory sensitivities in having the most comfortable and accommodating experience possible when attending any event.

Fans will have the use of a dedicated Sensory Room including a quiet space and a multi-sensory room with equipment donated by BCYF and Percy Baxter Perpetual Trust.  The Sensory Zone has a small sensory room within a larger quiet space and is designed to enable guests to feel comfortable and in control during their time at GMHBA Stadium. Guests are welcome to visit the room before, during or after the game. Upon its opening in round six of the AFL Home and Away Season over 50 people utilised the space.

As part of the Sensory Inclusive initiative, Sensory Backpacks will be available to borrow on event days. The backpacks include fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones as well as a number of other resources, and are available for checkout at no cost by leaving an ID at the following places:

  • Geelong Cats Welcome Desk (ground level, Brownlow Stand)
  • Deakin Cats Community Centre (Gate 8)
  • St Johns First Aid Room (ground level, Ford Stand)

The Sensory Inclusive initiative has been nearly two years in the making and has involved a large number of community groups to become a reality, including:

Deakin University, Barwon Child Youth and Family (BCYF), Barwon Paediatric Services, Leisure Networks, Gateways Support Services, NDIS, Latrobe Community Health, G21, City of Greater Geelong, Armstrong Creek School, Diversitat and Hope Bereavement Services. Kane Constructions undertook the building works free of charge and BCYF donated close to $100,000 in equipment.

Click HERE to download a Social Story about visiting GMHBA Stadium for a Cats game.

FAQ

What sensory inclusive resources do Kardinia Park Stadium Trust provide?

Our staff have undertaken an education program from world-renowned organization Kulture City, we have sensory backpacks available, a downloadable social story  and a Sensory Room, with an online virtual tour available HERE.

Do I need to be a Geelong Cats member to access any of the sensory inclusive resources during the AFL season?

These resources are available to one and all

Do I need to pay to access any of the sensory inclusive resources? 

All resources are free of any charge

What are the main items that included in the sensory backpacks?

Weighted lap mat, fidget tools, headphones

How do I apply for the sensory backpack?

We have 40 bags.  These bags can be collected from three locations.  You simply need to provide your license or another form of identification (working with children check, proof of age card etc):

  • Welcome desk at Brownlow Stand
  • First Aid Room in the Ford Stand
  • Deakin Cats Community Centre in the Players Stand

Where/how do I pick up and return the sensory backpack?

You will be required to provide your license or membership card (or another form of photo ID).  Sensory backpacks are to be returned to the same collection point on the same day as the event.

What and where is the Sensory Room?

The Sensory Room is located in the Deakin Cats Connect Lab in the Deakin Cats Community Centre on the concourse of the Players Stand. The Sensory Zone has a small sensory room within a larger quiet space. Guests are welcome to visit the room before, during or after the game. The Sensory Zone is designed to enable guests to feel comfortable and in control during their time at GMHBA Stadium.

How do I get to the Sensory Room?

The multi-sensory room is opposite the Doug Wade Gate (western side of ground, opposite the pool).

Do I need a reservation before using the Sensory Room?

No reservation is required. However, be aware that at busy times there may be multiple users of the space.

Is there any bathroom nearby the Sensory Room?

Yes, facilities are 30m from the Sensory Room on the ground level concourse.

Can I take my own food and drink into the Sensory Room?

Water is most welcome, but it is a food-free zone.

Is supervision required?

Yes, parental/guardian/carer supervision is required at all times.  This is a formal requirement of the room.

Do I need to sign up when I enter the Sensory Room?

No sign up is required, however, to ensure that we are providing the best possible experience, we would be grateful if anyone that accesses the space could provide an email address with view that you will be sent a survey by email to provide feedback after the match day.

What is the purpose of a social story?

Kardinia Park Stadium Trust and the Geelong Cats have developed a social story with professional support from Deakin University, which aims to show guests what they may see and experience during a Cats home game. The social story has photographs and simple text and is read or shared with guests prior to attending. Many people find social stories can help prepare them and feel more comfortable about what they may experience throughout the day.

The story has photographs to show children what they’ll encounter during a visit to GMHBA Stadium. The story can be download as a Word document to view on a computer or print out. You can also cut and paste the stories to create a story that best suits your child.

Where can I download the social story?

Download the “Going to GMHBA Stadium Social Story” here (.doc)

What else can I bring from home that may help my kids with sensory sensitivity?

The following websites have some great advice/suggestions or talk to your healthcare provider.

Questions?

If you’d like to speak to someone about Accessibility and Access at GMHBA Stadium, feel free to contact the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust via

Phone: 03 5224 9111

Email: enquiries@kardiniapark.vic.gov.au

Deaf, hearing or speech impaired?

Contact the National Relay Service:

Phone: 1800 555 660 or visit

www.relayservice.com.au

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