Volunteering can, and will, be dangerous
  • Tuesday 18 January 2011

Sunshine Coast residents have stepped up to the plate in huge numbers to help South East Queensland clean up from flood damage.

But, as Mayor Bob Abbot recently found out, it can be a hazardous business.

Helping the clean-up in the Somerset Council region on the weekend, he received a scratch, which went unnoticed – until it quickly swelled up and became infected.

“At one point I also rubbed my eye and it swelled up, too,” he said.

“It isn’t a holiday doing this sort of work,” he said.

“The tasks volunteers are being asked to do are hard work with long hours and will not suit anyone who cannot be self-sufficient.

“Volunteers going to Brisbane can expect to provide their own protective clothing, hat, strong shoes, gloves, sun-cream and a shovel or broom,” Cr Abbot said.

“They will be working on the streets for long stretches, in the kerbs, dealing with all sorts of debris, contaminated water and possibly dead animals.

“They will need to supply their own water supply, and lunch, too,” the mayor said.

Sunshine Coast Council employees have put their hands up to embark on Suncoast Christian College and SES buses from tomorrow morning (Wednesday) until the weekend, leaving from Nambour and Caloundra council chambers at 7.30am.

Council is working with Volunteering Queensland in a bid to provide adequate insurance for volunteers, given the hazards, and hopes for a breakthrough within a short time. Volunteering Queensland has been deluged with an astonishing 64,000 registration requests since the flood crisis began.

As soon as that hurdle is overcome, council will contact suitable volunteers from the public to join the council employee volunteers.

The mayor’s Brisbane contacts have advised him that volunteers are likely to be required for the next three to four weeks in the capital.

“Jobs are being coordinated, and Sunshine Coast residents are asked to keep an eye open on our website and the press,” Cr Abbot said.

“The main message right now is: be patient.”