Emergency services honoured at COVID-safe awards

'Recognising our 2020 emergency services was a certainty – no good event manager would let this group down.'

Event management specialists Admire Events were tasked with adapting the three-part NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards to a COVID-safe setting, and the result was overwhelmingly positive.

As the events industry crumbled to its knees back in mid-March, it was nothing compared to what our emergency services had already endured in the five months prior. These courageous and selfless individuals attacked Australia’s worst summer of bushfires, supported Australians through floods and mourned losing some of their very own amongst the devastation.

Admire Events, the event managers for the sixth annual NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA), were both honoured and excited to once again be working alongside this very deserving group to deliver their community-voted awards program, a series of three events commencing with the opening of nominations, followed by announcing finalists and the Award Presentation Dinner.

Then along came COVID-19! The first event was scheduled at NSW Parliament for 25 March, so some swift decisions needed to be made. The combined commitment of Rotary, the emergency services, event partners and Admire Events never wavered. The approach from that moment was turning the initial NSW Parliament House event into a video release, and all associated events still going ahead, no matter what format they would take on.

emergency services awards
MC Sue Hayward at the annual awards ceremony

Recognising and honouring our 2020 emergency services was a certainty – no good event manager would let this group down. Planning for all three events, hosted by Rotary and recognising their motto of “Service Above Self” surged ahead.

“I was so impressed how the Rotary Steering Committee embraced the ideas proposed to them to redesign their events,” said Admire Events director Alison Jack.

“For the last six years, the events had run in the same format so being open minded to this new challenge was a big ask.”

Even with communication channels focused solely on COVID-19, the awards received the highest number of nominations. With optimistic hopes for what was believed to be a short-lived inconvenience, the Announcement of Finalists event and Awards Dinner were moved back a few months.

Then in August, the face-to-face finalists event had to be cancelled and converted into another video release to Facebook, reaching over 40,000 with nearly 14,000 views. The Awards Dinner, which usually attracts more than 350 attendees, would now also need to take on a new format.

“In true COVID fashion, this year the night is spread across eight locations around NSW, all connected virtually,” said Commissioner of Resilience, Shane Fitzsimmons when he attended the primary location at the SMC Conference & Function Centre on Friday 30 October 2020.

The behind-the-scenes team at ON AIR

Utilising the “ON AIR” industry co-op between the SMC Conference & Function Centre, Audio Visual Events and Create Engage, the Admire Events team worked to bring a live broadcast to eight satellite events throughout the state.

From Casino in the North to Mollymook in the South and out west to Dubbo, award finalists gathered in smaller events at various locations, ranging from 10 to 50 people in each location. Many finalists were joined by their emergency service commissioners in the satellite locations, along with Rotarians and a representative of the event’s principal partner, Aware Super.

A number of esteemed guests attended the Sydney event, including Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley and Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services Gareth Ward. The broadcast was simultaneously streamed over the RESCA Facebook page to ensure that finalists were able to share in their special evening with family and friends, irrespective of their location.

Jack said the event received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the client and attendees.

“The client is even giving serious consideration to continuing with this format into the future, irrespective of COVID restrictions,” she said.

At a time when there is still an element of uncertainty within the events industry, Admire Events have shown that with collaboration and an open mind, important events can still go on, and in this case, honour the very deserving cohort of our NSW Emergency Services.


The teams behind this successful event will be presenting an in-person case study for event professionals interested in learning more about what went on behind the scenes.

Join Sydney Masonic Centre, Admire Events, Audio Visual Events and Create Engage for this face-to-face educational session on the 2020 NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards.

Tuesday 1 December 2020
SMC Conference & Function Centre
66 Goulburn Street, Sydney

Registration & studio tours: 10:00am
Educational session: 11:00am


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