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Getting Bundaberg back on its feet

2 February 2015

Getting Bundaberg back on its feet

Over five days in late January 2013, ex-tropical Cyclone Oswald dumped more than 500mm of rain in the Burnett River catchment in Central Queensland.

In Bundaberg, more than 7500 residents were forced to evacuate from 2000 homes and 300 businesses. Other areas of the catchment also fell victim to the Burnett River and Baffle Creek flooding.

The Salvation Army was a key player in providing relief and assistance in the immediate aftermath of the floods, both to those impacted by the disaster and to other volunteers and emergency service workers.

Since then, the Army and its community partners have been actively assisting people to rebuild their homes and lives physically, emotionally and spiritually. As the Bundaberg community continues to rebuild, The Salvation Army will be there beside them in the months and years to come.

Rebuilding communities

The Rebuild Community Group project has been one of the major ways The Salvation Army has been physically assisting people.

The project, funded by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services, rebuilt almost 70 houses to a habitable stage, allowing families to move back into their homes and continue to rebuild their lives. Community partner, the Combined Churches of Bundaberg, was an integral part of the project.

The focus was to assist people who did not have insurance, were under-insured, or did not have the means to rebuild their homes themselves.

Tom Osborne, manager of The Salvation Army’s Tom Quinn Community Centre (TQCC), was overall facilitator of the Rebuild project and gave full support to those involved with its direct coordination and implementation.

“David Wilkinson, who ran a distribution centre for the TQCC after the floods, and Rob Brough, a TQCC volunteer, were instrumental in starting the project and then coordinated the work,” said Tom.

Long-term recovery

Captain Chris Millard, Bundaberg Corps Officer, oversees all local expressions of The Salvation Army as they work together to assist the community.

“My role is to help coordinate all aspects of The Salvation Army working together to deliver as much good to as many people as possible, and being a voice of long-term recovery and resilience.

“The Rebuild project enabled us to mobilise people and put them at the coalface working for good, which is a great example of what The Salvation Army stands for, no matter which expression you represent.

“The Army, local churches and community organisations are all working together for the good of the Bundaberg community.”

Changing focus

As physical needs diminish, the focus of Salvation Army assistance is changing. Although a few people are still asking for material assistance, most are now requesting help with emotional and spiritual needs.

“Our counsellors and chaplains have never been busier as the need shifts to this long-term recovery work and helping people rebuild emotionally and not be owned by the events of the past,” says Chris. “

Chris and his team are focusing on helping people build resilience to get through this phase of their recovery and rebuild, access the next level of services they need and plan for the future.

“For example, we’re currently heading into a drought,” he explains. “We need to help facilitate resilience in people to get through that, as well as life in general.

“We are building relationships with mental health and other professionals so people can be referred to them for specialist assistance.

“We are all about transforming lives, physically and emotionally and spiritually.”

By Simone Worthing

Photo by Shairon Paterson.


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