Brotherhood acts for QLD flood emergency

9 April 2019

In communities affected by catastrophic floods, it takes more than money and hard work to begin the long recovery process.

Alice, a case manager with Brotherhood Aged Care, was well aware of this when she arrived in the remote community of Julia Creek in North West Queensland.

Alice was seconded from her Melbourne job to help with flood relief after a call was put out by Anglicare for a Senior Social Worker preferably with a farming background.

When Alice arrived at Julia Creek (population 500), she didn’t introduce herself with a professional title.

“People wouldn’t be interested if I was the ‘social worker’,” she says.

After seven years of drought, the community had lost so much. Thousands of cattle, farms – and much more – were wiped out when 510mm of rain fell in seven days.

“People were quite fragile, and they found it was confronting to make eye-contact,” she says. “They were sceptical at first.”

Alice began working with local librarian Chris and practice nurse Rachel, and was able to build trust with the community through sharing her own experiences. “I have been through a disaster with bush fire so was credible in their eyes.”

She went to family homes to help with cooking and looking after children so parents could get on with other jobs. “I could talk about different beef cattle breeds and stocking rates, and this common ground certainly made it easier to be there,” she says.

“I was someone that would shout coffee, talk about rural living or life in Melbourne and have a laugh – it was a distraction that took them away from the horror they were immersed in.”