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Cool operation gets winter warmth to Woorabinda

Cool operation gets winter warmth to Woorabinda

Cool operation gets winter warmth to Woorabinda

1 June 2020

Major Peter Sutcliffe (second from right) and Captain Marcus Wunderlich (second from left) with Woorabinda community members at the police checkpoint SAES trailer with the donated warm clothing and bedding.

By Darryl Whitecross

With the cool winter weather around the corner, warm clothing is in high demand, even in areas of Australia where many think it doesn’t get “that cold” – but cold is relative.

The Salvation Army has answered a call from the Woorabinda Aboriginal community – which is about 60km off the Capricorn Highway between Rockhampton and Emerald in Central Queensland – for warm clothing.

Enter the new Brisbane-built Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) trailer, which was about to be commissioned and head to Emerald.

Major Peter Sutcliffe, Central Queensland Area Officer, said the Woorabinda residents were not permitted to leave the community to pick up the winter supplies due to the COVID-19 restrictions so calls were made through Shirli Congoo, the Army’s Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander General Manager, and the Department of Communities to have goods shipped in.

Peter said that, as well as the clothing, blankets and flannelette sheets were also requested.

Major Peter Sutcliffe’s 4WD vehicle filled to the brim with goods for the trip to the Woorabinda Aboriginal Settlement.

So the SAES trailer was hitched up to a four-wheel-drive vehicle in Rockhampton and the two vehicles packed to the brim – even the front seat of the towing vehicle was used – with the much-needed items.

Peter said Gladstone Corps, through its links with Goods 360 program, and Blackwater Family Store donated several boxes and bags of warm clothes and other items with help from Emerald and Rockhampton corps. He said the Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management department bought new towels, winter sheets and blankets to add to the shipment.

Captain Christopher Ford, Gladstone Corps Officer, said almost a pallet-load of items from his centre was donated to project. He said his corps each year received many thousands of dollars worth of new products through the Goods 360 program, which is administered in Sydney, and was pleased to be able to help the people of Woorabinda. He said Gladstone Corps had had a partnership agreement with Goods 360 for about four years.

Once loaded in Rockhampton, the precision operation began. About the same time Peter began the journey from Rockhampton to the Woorabinda, Central Highlands’ Corps Officer Captain Marcus Wunderlich began his journey from Emerald.

Peter said that, because only Woorabinda members were allowed into the community, the transfer of goods needed to happen at a police checkpoint where the goods were transferred to another truck to eventually be distributed by the Red Cross.

A couple of members of the Woorabinda community met the Army ‘convoy’ at the ‘quarantine line’ and, along with police, helped load their truck for the 60km journey home.

The new Emerald trailer is part of a SAES fleet of rapid-response catering vehicles stationed across the country to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies, providing food for relief workers and those affected. 

Marcus said the new trailer was to replace the ageing Mk III trailer in service in Emerald. That trailer had been reallocated to be part of the Army’s work at nearby Blackwater, principally attached to the Family Store there.

Adam Cole, the Army’s Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management Queensland coordinator said the old Blackwater trailer was being donated to a community group in Longreach. He said it was a “great idea” that the trailer be used to transport the shipment to Woorabinda.

“From our perspective, we’re very happy that SAES equipment is used to support non-emergency initiatives that corps and regions come up,” Adam said.

“When they said: ‘we’re taking this trailer from Rocky to position at Emerald, how about we do this at the same time?’ Great idea,” Adam said. “Initiatives like that are fantastic ideas.”

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