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Community spirit shines through at the Australian Deaf Games

The Australian Deaf Games took over Newcastle in January this year and the result was a true celebration of inclusivity and sportsmanship.

Mark stands with arms folded.
2024 Australian Deaf Games Community Spirit Award winner Mark Cullan.

Over 820 participants from all over Australia, New Zealand and Fiji ascended on the Hunter region to compete and nearly 100 volunteers got involved to ensure the smooth execution of the games.

Mark Cullan was awarded the Leonie Jackson Community Spirit Award for his tireless volunteer contributions.

“I was really surprised and proud to receive the Leonie Jackson community spirit award. It was nice to know that people could see how much work I was doing, but I loved doing it,” Mark said.

“I think it’s important to encourage our community and to support each other as we are each-others deaf brothers and sisters.”

The games needed volunteers from all walks of life to succeed, from Auslan interpreters to members of the public who just wanted to help-out. A former swimmer who competed at the Deaf Games, Mark swapped his goggles for car keys to volunteer as a bus driver to transport the visiting Fijian team around the games.

“There were so many different volunteers at the Deaf Games, I can’t remember them all,” Mark said.

“There were drivers and people helping at sporting events. There were also volunteer interpreters and interpreting students.”

The 2024 Australian Deaf Games was the biggest one yet, a testament to the hard work of administrators, officials and volunteers. This year marked the first time the Australian Deaf Games were shown on public TV with Kayo/Fox and Jam TV showcasing daily games highlights. The Games also saw the largest ever representation from the Fiji and New Zealand teams.

“It felt great to give my time to the deaf community and I have made new lifelong friends. I can’t wait to volunteer again for the 2026 Australian Deaf Games,” Mark said.

The 2026 Games will be held at Sunshine Coast in Queensland and will look to be bigger and better, with plans to include a team from Papua New Guinea. Visit their site to learn more

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