For members affected by severe flooding all along the east coast, but particularly in the Northern Rivers of NSW, the last couple of months has felt like a waking nightmare.
In many instances, members had nothing left but the clothes on their backs. Waiting to be rescued in some cases for many hours on the roofs of their houses, they were cold and sodden and terrified.
While the flood has subsided, the rebuild is far from over. Thankfully, the HSU Welfare Fund, developed by the Union in 2020 to assist members who had been affected by the bushfire crisis, has been in place to help members who are struggling with the enormity of the disaster.
“It’s vital that our Union function socially, as well as industrially,” said Secretary Gerard Hayes. “If we can help, it’s important that we do.”
Members who have experienced extreme hardship because of natural disasters have been able to access up to $1000 each to help with the costs they faced. The HSU has also facilitated members in accessing other support that may be available to get them back on their feet.
Member Matt Youngberry from Lismore talked about the difficulty the community is facing. “It’s a battle every day,” he says.
Matt stresses that financial support was very helpful, but just as important was the support that came in the form of listening. “It was very satisfying to know that Gerard came to Lismore to listen to us. I can’t express it enough, I’m very appreciative.”
The months ahead won’t be easy, and members still face the task of rebuilding their lives. But no matter what, they know they can rely on their union and each other.