3 June 2024

Backpackers bring much-needed boost to Rossville flood clean-up efforts

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Backpacker volunteers in Rossville

The first group of volunteers has arrived in Rossville and is eager to start helping the community with its flood clean-up efforts. Photo: Supplied.

The helping hands of young backpackers are bringing hope to an exhausted Rossville community after almost six months of Tropical Cyclone Jasper clean-up with no end in sight.

Under the Federal Government’s Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program, people with a current WHM visa can apply for a second or third year if they work or volunteer in areas affected by natural disasters.

Having worked as a mental health nurse in disaster management and resilience previously, Wallaby Creek Festival volunteer co-ordinator Pasha Lynch had the connections and knowledge needed to bring reinforcements to the flood-affected town.

“The work that needs to be done is insurmountable, it’s just incredible how much further we have to go.” Ms Lynch said.

“When we had the flood, I saw everyone was pushing and pushing; we pushed hard for months, but people started getting more and more tired.

“How can you pitch yourself up when you’ve given all you’ve got?”

Forty-six backpackers have already been confirmed for the community between May and July, and will volunteer four to six hours a day for five days a week to meet their visa requirements.

“People are excited to have them here because they’re realising that we’re getting young, strong, willing people coming to help,” Ms Lynch said.

“It’s giving people hope that there is a way to move forward without it all being on yourself.”

READ ALSO 100 days on: ‘Things will never be the same again’ for Rossville resident

Ms Lynch explained that with many backpackers hungry for a “cultural experience”, they were willing to go the extra mile to immerse themselves in the community.

She said community members would accommodate volunteers in exchange for another set of hands.

“All we ask for is that people feed them, give them a roof over their head or even a tent, and basically make them part of your family while they’re here,” she said.

The volunteer co-ordinator encouraged community members to work together for a successful outcome.

“There are some people that have lost everything and are doing it tough financially, and they can’t afford to feed someone else but need the help,” Ms Lynch said.

“By asking for community support, maybe someone else has food or accommodation to spare and people can help each other out.

“I feel that our community up here can reciprocate the dedication that these volunteers are showing.”

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