For days in late December and early January we all watched as floods swept through our northern neighbours yards, and then through Victoria. In Queensland three quarters of the state was declared a natural disaster area. We waited to hear about those who hadn’t been heard from. Eyes everywhere were riveted to TV’s that ran 24 hour coverage. We called loved ones north of the border to ensure they were alright. We prayed for those caught in the funnelling valley and plains around Toowoomba, wondered why no one had seen what was coming, or if they had, why nothing had been done to cover ‘just in case’. Where once they had prayed for rain to break a long drought they were now they were praying for the rain to stop. We wept on hearing of fatalities, at hearing the trembling in the voices of those who had thought their time was up. We all know what they experienced and saw will ever be engraved on their minds and be a part of their psyches.
As soon as the deluge abated, and the Brisbane River receded, Queenslanders were out in force to clean up those areas devastated by the torrents and others from areas south went north to lend a hand. Five months on the work continues, that amount of destruction is not returned to what it was in the twinkling of an eye. The physical, emotional and mental damage may never be fully recovered from, especially to all those who lost someone dear. Beneath all the platitudes and brave smiles we are, as Australians, plain hard-working folk at heart, who will get on and do what needs to be done, and do it quietly, stoically, knowing that our small way of simply standing beside those who are our countrymen and women will bring a balm that begins easing, even if only slightly, the pain. Reconstruction efforts are widespread and do not occur overnight. Once mindful of this we also remember that those who do not ask for help, and in this case that would define our trenchant farmers, are often those who genuinely require a little. It is easy to be heard by many standing on a city street corner. Far less so while standing in the great interior even if folk who battle in silence were inclined to make their voices carry across the plains.
One of the on the ground ‘hands on’ Organisations that continues now that people not directly affected have begun to forget is Aussie Helpers. This rural based team of volunteers, that has been helping those who need it since May 2002 with goods and services and the healing kind word, continues to come to the assistance of those still recovering from these floods in Queensland and Victoria. The core group of volunteers is supported by many others who travel from their homes to go to where they are needed. Community Spirit that prevails, past the times it is glorified, is an essential part of our character too.
Pittwater’s Mayor Rose said recently at the Avalon Tattoo that one in four Pittwater residents perform some kind of service for those around them. Whether this is Community based groups such as Bush Regenerators, who are out toiling in hot weather and cold to restore damaged areas, or those who work for groups such as Meals on Wheels at Warriewood, ensuring our elders get a decent meal, it is obvious our own community spirit is strong and we remain aware of an abundance of blessings and make time to give something back. Two generous locals who have given of their time, skills, dollars and substance and have recently returned from two weeks as Aussie Helpers, are a timely reminder that Community, in the sense of us all being in life together, extends further then just our wonderful area. This couple demonstrate that hard work and perseverance are required long after any associated glory may crown their efforts and setting aside of their selves. Ultimately they are a reminder that angels, in strange guises, and of good ilk, move among us unawares, investing in people instead of houses.
We contacted Mr Egan, the founder of Aussie Helpers, requesting a comment for this article. His response is below.
I would encourage any persons who have some spare time to help, especially in Queensland with the clean up and repairs to farms in south west Queensland. People could be retired trades people or just willing spirits. There is ample accommodation on most of the farms or folk could take the caravan and have a working holiday volunteering and helping another Aussie. If anyone has a week or two to spare to get these farms back into production that would be just fantastic. There is an online registration form on our website www.aussiehelpers.org.au that people could fill out and is automatically sent to our office or just phone 1300 665 232 anytime.
Aussie Helpers Ltd
Founder Aussie Helpers
2008 Qld Senior Australian of the Year
2007 Qld Pride of Australia Medal
Click on Logo Header Above to go to Aussie Helpers Website.
Government Website http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/
Federal Attorney General on Reconstruction efforts (HANSARD; 22/6/11): http://www.qldreconstruction.org.au/news-media/60