Support for those who support those in need

Often they are unsung heroes. Small community-based organisations that run on shoe-string budgets but provide much needed support for vulnerable members of the community.

Organisations like Goodna Street Life, a homeless centre that also runs an op shop and services including free counselling and drug and alcohol rehabilitation support, work programs for clients, and a community food bank.

Devastating floods that engulfed south-east Queensland in 2022 resulted in widespread damage to homes and businesses, and displaced thousands of residents.

Although the Queensland and Australian Governments initiated financial assistance and recovery projects, many residents were still grappling with the aftermath.

Demand for assistance from organisations such as Goodna Street Life was at unprecedented levels.

Further complicating the situation, Goodna Street Life itself had been significantly impacted, with the facility flooded up to the first storey, including all rooms designated for vulnerable residents.

The damage strained the centre’s ability to manage an influx of donations pouring in from the community, eager to assist.

Amid the chaos though, a beacon of hope emerged.

A unique collaboration between not-for-profit Goodna Street Life and industry body Energy Skills Queensland (ESQ) was initiated under the Queensland Government’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.

The ‘Creating a Greener Opportunity Shop’ project was funded through a $242 million exceptional circumstances package under the joint Commonwealth-state Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA).

In partnership with ESQ, Goodna Street Life were able to employ and upskill three of the people displaced by flooding at the centre, offering them traineeship positions to work with ESQ while assisting Goodna Street Life with their recovery efforts.

Trainees completed a Certificate I in Workplace Skills course while also undertaking project activities to research and design recycling stations, learn basic administration and receptions skills, and organise small events to promote recycling initiatives.

Through their efforts, the project achieved significant outcomes for Goodna Street Life, including:

  • Sorting and managing the overwhelming number of donations
  • Repurposing fashion and clothing donations into bags designed to carry personal belongings and toiletries for the homeless
  • Exploring 3D printing technology for effectively recycling plastic materials and to create moulds for an innovative garden system designed to produce food
  • Setting up a tool library where a range of tools could be borrowed rather than bought
  • The establishment of a sewing club

And the outcomes for the community were just as vital, helping to build a stronger sense of community in the wake of the devastating floods.

The collaborative efforts of Goodna Street Life and ESQ are a powerful example of the Queensland Government and local organisations working together to empower individuals while fostering sustainability and self-sufficiency.

The project is an inspiring reminder of the strength and resourcefulness that can emerge from the most challenging circumstances.

Combined it all stands as testament to the power of community partnerships in the face of adversity and the potential for transformative change in the wake of disaster.

Further information about the $242 million Queensland Rainfall and Flooding exceptional circumstances package can be found on the Queensland Reconstruction Authority website.