'Road to Cobargo' wraps up a learning and charitable experience for young brokers

The 2021 Warren Tickle Memorial Award Program concluded with four thrilling days in south-eastern NSW. Past and present Young Professional Broker of the Year winners were joined by senior Vero leaders on a learning and community give-back experience. The destination was Cobargo, a small community hit hard by devastating bushfires in late 2019 and again by floods the following year.

Pictured: 2021 NIBA Young Professional Broker of the Year winners, Vero Young Broker Alumni members and Vero Senior Leaders arrive at the village of Cobargo, NSW.

“Charity work and fundraising to support communities affected by severe weather events have become an integral part of the Vero-sponsored NIBA Warren Tickle Memorial Award Program. Each year, we ask the state winners to work together to select a community or a local charity affected by a major weather-related event. They’ll then present the case to a panel of senior Vero executives for the opportunity to receive funding towards their revival,” said Anthony Pagano, Head of Intermediated Distribution.

In 2020, the five state winners elected to support the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund (CCBRF) with a grant of $25,000, courtesy of Vero. This year, the goal of the ‘Road to Cobargo’ journey was to meet with grant recipients and CCBRF representatives to witness how the Vero Young Broker Alumni grant helped the community through to recovery. “This first-hand experience challenged us on how we see our roles as insurance professionals, and how the broking industry can more effectively give back to the community on individual and industry levels,” said Brad Dalton, Strategic Advisor, Commercial & Intermediated.

After meeting with Director of the Little Yuin Pre-School, one of the recipients of funding from CCBRF, the whole group got their hands dirty helping with restoration and renovation projects throughout the children’s playground and garden beds.

Pictured: Left: Yuin nation Elder Garry Campbell, Little Yuin Pre school director Kim Cooke and school staff welcome the group. Right: The group helps with restoration of the children’s playground.

Travelling through the Yuin Country the group met with many local heroes, including the Elders of the Yuin nation, who explained the immediate and long-term impact of the 2020 bushfires on the indigenous community. In and around Cobargo, there is no shortage of first-hand accounts of incredible bravery and resilience. From volunteers and firefighters to small business owners, they all risked their lives to save their community, businesses, farms, and even a wildlife park as the bushfire ravaged the land.

With the original $25,000 grant allocated to rebuilding projects that are already underway, the group was inspired to raise additional funds through their personal and professional networks. Once Vero matched the raised amount dollar for dollar, the group was incredibly proud to deliver an additional donation of $21,000 to further contribute to new recovery projects.

“The additional donation announced during the visit will help us further develop our approach to resilience, adaptation and preparedness and to take practical steps to reduce our risk. Hand in hand with these major infrastructure projects, the fund is supporting around 35 other community-led projects focusing on the mental and emotional resilience of adults and children, food security, a tool library, bushfire preparedness, environmental restoration and the creative arts, amongst many others,” said Zena Armstrong from the Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund.

Pictured: Firefighters and volunteers from the Narooma fire service station

It was an exciting and unique broker development experience that had it all: meeting the local communities and its heroes, contributing to rebuilding efforts in the area while putting our young brokers’ resilience and leadership skills to the test. We hope ‘Road to Cobargo’ encouraged these young brokers to step outside their comfort zone, work together in challenging conditions, reflect on their young professional journey, and the skills needed to be a successful leader.

At Vero, we recognise the importance of investing in our young brokers and the future role they will play in supporting our communities. Later this year, we look forward to bringing a group of young brokers – the upcoming 2022 NIBA Young Professional Broker of the Year State winners - to Northampton, WA. This community, located 480km north of Perth, received a grant of $25,000, courtesy of Vero, after it was hit by a devastating tropical cyclone Seroja in early 2021. We’ll be bringing you more information on how Northampton and surrounding districts progress towards recovery in the coming months.

About Cobargo
Cobargo, located in Yuin Country, halfway between Narooma and Bega, is a village with a diverse, yet tight knit community, with a population just under 800. As the northern gateway to the Bega Valley, Cobargo has a long history as a working village and plays a vital role in servicing the surrounding localities as a centre for local agricultural industries and a highly acclaimed annual agricultural show. The village and surrounding area is home to a range of small businesses, artisans, arts and crafts businesses and its main street businesses support and connect rural residents in the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla shires.

About The Cobargo Community Bushfire Recovery Fund (CCBR)
CCBR is a community-led fundraiser to help Cobargo and the local region contribute to its recovery. Donations are used to support community groups running projects that help the recovery of the communities of Cobargo and the local area. If you’d like to make a donation, please visit https://cobargorecoveryfund.com.

About the Young Brokers Alumni Program
The Young Brokers Alumni Program, bringing together the next generation of broking leaders across our industry for ongoing development and training, is an integral part of Vero’s commitment to our young brokers. Since its launch in 2019, the Program aims to foster strong bonds amongst the group and provide access to exclusive mentoring and professional development experiences. Last year, the Alumni welcomed their newest member – the 2021 winner of Vero-sponsored Warren Tickle Memorial Award, Mitch Wight from Integral Insurance Services, PSC Connect in Victoria.