Gold Coast Health Golden Gala Awards 2021

The stars come out for Gold Coast Health's night of nights

After working to keep the community safe throughout a year of unique challenges and uncertainty, the staff of Gold Coast Health turned out in droves for a Golden Gala that celebrated them as the stars they are.

The Golden Gala Awards are Gold Coast Health’s annual staff reward and recognition event. The black-tie event celebrates the achievements of individuals and teams who embody Gold Coast Health’s core values – Integrity, Community First, Excellence, Respect, Compassion and Empower.

For the second year in a row, the event was held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre (GCCEC), the largest regional convention centre in Australia.

For healthcare workers who have been at the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Golden Gala provided them with a rare chance to get together – and they weren’t going to let that golden opportunity pass them by.

A record turnout

Traditionally, the Golden Gala Awards have attracted roughly 1,000 guests each year. This year, event organisers – expecting a bigger turnout than usual – raised capacity to 1,500 people, but were still surprised when tickets sold out in 10 minutes, leaving them with a waitlist of 500 guests.

Not wanting anyone to miss out, representatives of Gold Coast Health met with the Event Management team at GCCEC to discuss how the extra guests could be accommodated.

Sarah Dixon, Executive Director of Corporate Affairs for Gold Coast Health, says the GCCEC team understood the importance of accommodating the extra guests, and were able to expand the event by adding an additional hall (taking the total number of halls to four) and providing additional tables, operational staff and theming to ensure nobody was disappointed.

“The Centre has been very accommodating with us,” Sarah says. “We were able to work with GCCEC to expand the event and add an extra 500 seats to ensure that we could comfortably seat 2000 people in the room, so everybody who wanted a ticket could get one.”

Sarah says she has come to expect this level of flexibility from GCCEC. “At last year’s Golden Gala, there were social distancing restrictions that meant we couldn’t have a dance floor,” she remembers. “But at the very last minute, those restrictions changed, and the Centre worked with us to accommodate a dance floor in the open air. That was something different and really exciting for our staff who wanted to have a dance at the end of the night.”

The starry night

Utilising GCCEC’s custom 21m x 5m LED wall, as well as intelligent lighting fixtures spanning throughout the four connected halls, GCCEC Technical Event Manager Matt Ennis and the audio-visual team were able to turn the space into a dazzling and immersive starscape that wowed guests as they walked through the doors, and kept them transfixed throughout the night.

“The key for me is to ask all the right questions, right from the very start,” Matt says. “I want to gather as much information as I can, run with ideas, and make sure the client gets the best possible audio-visual solution, so they can provide their guests with an amazing experience.”

Collaborating closely with the client and local suppliers, GCCEC Executive Chef Garry Kindred and his highly trained team developed a three-course menu with a focus on freshness and seasonal flavours that satisfied every dietary requirement and exceeded guests’ expectations.

“The people in our kitchen really care about what they do,” Garry says. “They’re passionate chefs, they’re passionate about ensuring that what they deliver is of a high quality, and that comes out on the plate.”

In order to avoid a logjam at the bar, GCCEC staff wheeled drink trolleys around the room throughout the evening, ensuring speedy beverage service for all 200 tables.

Working together to bring the client’s vision to life, the GCCEC team were able to ensure that each and every guest received great service, fabulous food, and left with a happy memory.

All that glitters

For Sarah Dixon and the Gold Coast Health team, the event was a smashing success that put the perfect bow on a demanding year.

“The Centre has really bent over backwards to work with us in what has been a difficult time for our health care workers,” she says. “The GCCEC staff are professional, accommodating and very flexible. Nothing’s too hard for them.

“I would certainly recommend GCCEC to anyone who’s planning a large-scale gala event like this. The team gets behind you – they believe in what you’re trying to achieve, and they work with you to pull it off.

“They’re highly experienced in putting on events of this nature and at this scale, and they’re an absolute joy to work with.”


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We acknowledge the land and traditional families of the Yugambeh region of south east Queensland. We pay our respects to their elders past and present.

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