RACQ Foundation volunteers descended on Gympie during National Volunteer Week to restore community hubs and boost resilience after the region was devastated by recent natural disasters.
In one week, the volunteers completed restoration and resilience building projects for 18 grass-roots organisations in Gympie’s hardest hit areas.
The projects included installing a new kitchen at the Manumbar Community Hall, health checks on solar panels and repairing crucial emergency machinery and equipment used during natural disasters.
The week’s major project, dubbed the ‘Mary River Sands Muster’, was the revegetation of The Sands along the River to Rail Trail, where 3,000 specially selected trees and shrubs were planted on the riverbank to improve flood resilience and protect against future erosion.
The three-day initiative was done in collaboration with the Minderoo Foundation’s Australian Resilience Corps, which was established in 2021 with founding partner NRMA Insurance, and supported by the Gympie Regional Council and Gympie & District Landcare Group, as well as an army of volunteers including University of Sunshine Coast students and local residents.
RACQ’s General Manager Advocacy Josh Cooney said a key aim of the RACQ Foundation’s work in Gympie was to help protect the region against future severe weather events.
“This is RACQ Foundation’s 19th community assistance project and it was great to support the Gympie region after what we know has been a challenging time since the devastating floods ripped through this town last year,” Mr Cooney said.
“Restoring community hubs after a natural disaster is important for the livelihoods of locals, but building them back stronger, to ensure they can withstand future natural disasters, was our special mission.
“It was fantastic to work alongside other organisations like the Australian Resilience Corps and we really look forward to future projects where we can collaborate to help better protect at-risk Queensland communities against natural disasters in the future.”
Minderoo Foundation’s Muster Officer for its Australian Resilience Corps, Clare Alexander, said she was thrilled to have mobilised volunteers through The Corps to help restore The Sands.
“The floods may have caused severe damage, but together, we have been able to bring it back to life,’ Mrs Alexander said.
“We can support communities to be more resilient to disasters through risk reduction activities like these and by maintaining crucial spaces where communities can come together to stay connected.
“Minderoo Foundation looks forward to working with RACQ Foundation to help at risk communities across Queensland build resilience to future potential disasters such as those experienced here in 2022.”
Mayor of Gympie Regional Council Glen Hartwig said the work done by volunteers this week was crucial to boosting the region’s resilience.
“The 2022 floods were something that we’ve never seen before in Gympie, it was horrendous and never seemed to end, the rain just seemed to keep coming,” Mr Hartwig said.
“Without the tree planting and the other work that’s being done, it might be 15 or 20 years before it looks like what it was, but with the work that’s being done by the volunteers it’ll probably be back in a third of that time which means that it’ll handle flooding in future much better.”
RACQ established its Foundation following Brisbane’s 2011 floods, with more than $13 million in grants provided to more than 400 sports clubs and community groups. It has also conducted 18 on-the-ground recovery projects across Queensland.
In the Gympie region alone, RACQ Foundation has so far funded more than $600,000 worth of recovery projects for 18 local groups.
The Mary River Sands Muster was the first project completed by the newly formed collaboration between RACQ Foundation and Minderoo Foundation, with the organisations now looking to collaborate further to improve resilience in the State’s communities.
Full list of organisations and projects assisted by RACQ Foundation:
Full list of volunteer activities completed by RACQ Foundation: