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About GRC: Our History

Our History

More than 1 million young people aged 6 to 19 years old have performed on stage from Belfast to Albany, Johannesburg to Thursday Island, Dresden to Melbourne, Aberdeen to Auckland and everywhere in between.

Our sister event, Croc Festival is also part of our proud history. It takes place in remote and regional areas for both indigenous and non-indigenous communities each year and recently celebrated its 10th Anniversary.

  • Rock Eisteddfod began as a radio station promotion in Sydney for 2SM in 1980.
  • In 1988 producer Peter Sjoquist expands the event as a major health promotion vehicle with the support of NSW Health and Arts Minister Peter Collins. Quit for Life was the first health message.
  • Rock Eisteddfod is televised nationally for the first time on the Nine Network as part of the 1998 National Drug Offensive.
  • Events in other states and territories followed with similar messages – "Rage without Alcohol", "100% in Control", "I Decide", "Positive Minds Attract", "Quit, Smokefree", "How will you Feel Tomorrow?"
  • In 1993 Peter Sjoquist is invited to start the event (known as the Stage Challenge®) in New Zealand with the sponsorship from the NZ Health Sponsorship Council.
  • By 1996 Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary (UK) Sir John Hoddinott introduces the event into the UK as a crime and drug prevention program. Bruce Gyngell was the inaugural Chairman of the Be Your Best Foundation (UK).
  • In 1997 Queensland Health Minister, Mike Horan asks Peter to find a way to engage more Indigenous students in Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands. By 1998 Sir William Deane opened the inaugural “Croc Festival®” in Weipa saying that it was “reconciliation in action”.
  • Former Director of Substance Abuse at World Health Organisation (WHO), Mr Hans Emblad says the Rock Eisteddfod was the “best prevention programme I have seen in the 25 years work in the area of substance abuse”.
  • Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® won the Financial Review Magazine’s Sponsorship of the Year Award.
  • In 2000 the former Australian Prime Minister, the Hon John Howard opens the Moree “Croc Festival®”.
  • In 2001 Professor Don Nutbeam – Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at University of Sydney releases the results of a three year study on resiliency by PhD candidate Rose Grunstein. The research of Sydney schools shows that participants were more resilient and less likely to smoke marijuana or tobacco, binge drink or take other drugs compared to the control group.
  • The US Ambassador for HIV/Aids, Dr Jack Chow asks Peter and Helen Sjoquist to consider introducing the event into the Eastern Europe, the Caribbean and Africa to assist with the prevention of the spread of HIV/Aids.
  • In 2004 Peter Sjoquist is awarded Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for his services to the
    youth of Australia through the Rock Eisteddfod Challenge® and the Croc Festival® and to the community in general.
  • The “Croc Festival®” and OPSM wins the Australian Business Arts Foundation Partnership of the Year Award.
  • Governor-General, Michael Jeffrey opens the 2004 Moree “Croc Festival®”.
  • Rock Challenge™ is launched in Johannesburg, South Africa to assist with the prevention of transmission of HIV amongst school students.
  • JRock™ (Junior Rock Eisteddfod Challenge) launches to assist with the promotion of healthy eating and exercise to primary school students and their families.
  • In 2005 the New Zealand Prime Minister attends the Stage Challenge® events in Auckland and Wellington.
  • The Governor-General opens the Thursday Island “Croc Festival”.
  • Peter Sjoquist is invited to speak at the World Health Organisation’s inaugural Forum on Health Partnerships in October 2005.
  • Peter is asked by the Assistant Director-General of WHO – Dr Joy Phumaphi to work with WHO towards introducing the event into African countries as quickly as possible.
  • In 2006 a new competition division called “RAW” is launched in Australia.
  • Peter Sjoquist is invited to speak at the UNESCO World Conference on Arts and Education in Lisbon in March.
  • The 2006 Inaugural Be Your Best Rock Challenge Japan event is held in Tokyo Japan. The event is marked by teams visiting from the UK and Australia to be part of the event.
  • In early 2007 the Inaugural Rock Challenge Dubai event is held in the United Arab Emirates as the event enters its 28th year in Australia.

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