Community leaders, from Olympic champions to health professionals, have joined a business-led campaign to encourage residents of the region to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
Called #vaxtheillawarra, the campaign aims to get the region to a fully vaccinated rate of 80 per cent as quickly as possible.
Vicki Tiegs, executive director of Wollongong-based marketing agency Waples, said the campaign was borne from the responses to a social media post, with businesspeople and others in the community asking what could be done to alleviate the COVID situation.
"Over the course of a few weeks, I kept watching what was happening and listening to what people were saying, and what became abundantly clear was there was a bit of a vacuum of local information," Ms Tiegs said.
Together with people like Jeremy Lasek, Toby Dawson from the IRT Group, and Kyle-Ann Haynes, a campaign with the simple goal of reaching 80 per cent vaccination in the Illawarra was created.
Central to the project is the website www.vaxtheillawarra.com.au, where the residents can find out where to book an appointment and keep up to date with the region's progress.
Those behind the drive have garnered the support of leaders from across the community to spread their message, and spoken to Indigenous and multicultural communities to ensure it reaches everyone in a clear and appropriate way.
Ms Tiegs said they wanted to get businesses reopened, people back into work, students back at school, and families back together.
She said the campaign had received "overwhelming support" from the business community, with the University of Wollongong's Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute to benefit from the funds. Anything left over will go towards a mental health initiative.