Community support and connection is never more important than in the aftermath of a disaster. The strength and resilience shown by communities following the devastating floods in Southeast Queensland and New South Wales this year was no exception.

On the frontline to support people in their time of need was CASPA Services, a not-for-profit charity and leading child welfare and care services provider. Following the first flood in Lismore, CASPA opened its doors to set up a wellbeing hub for the whole community. The hub allowed CASPA to work with key organisations in the region whose premises were severely impacted to offer them space to continue helping the community.

CASPA provided these support services to the community and its members while itself being directly impacted by the floods. Two CASPA offices, a maintenance shed, training facilities, and nine residential care and semi-independent living (SIL) homes were damaged in the disaster.

Beyond the property damage, however, was the impact on CASPA’s workforce. Many of the foster carers’ and team members’ homes were either completely inundated or severely impacted by floodwaters, with a number of these properties again affected in the second flood one month later. 

Naarah Rodwell, CEO at CASPA Services said: “The floods had a huge impact on our ability to help the community, with staff shortages being a key challenge to navigate. Many of our team members were working additional shifts to remain with children and young people and provide the level of care required.

“Our teams needed to quickly find alternative emergency accommodation and provide additional wellbeing support throughout the floods for the children and young people living in residential care or SIL homes. Many of the young people in the semi-independent living program were impacted by the floods and had to be relocated out of the area which was incredibly challenging for them, due to housing availability. Despite the challenges, CASPA has been able to continue to provide crucial support and services.

“Thanks to CommBank’s funding, we were able to quickly respond to the communities’ immediate needs. The opportunity to open our building has given our staff, and the children and young people in our care, a great sense of belonging and connection to the local community. We have been able to continue to open our doors to external service providers at the wellbeing hub and offer free food and drinks to community members in a safe and relaxed environment.

Through its Flood Relief fund, Commonwealth Bank donated $10,000 to CASPA Services. The grant was used to purchase generators, pressure cleaners, essential cleaning supplies and PPE to commence the initial clean out once flood water subsided. The sooner homes could be cleaned, the sooner children and young people could return. The grant also helped host a community BBQ night for volunteers.”

CASPA’s wellbeing hub continues operating today to deliver much-needed support in trauma counselling, massage therapy, kids’ activities and more. CASPA is one of more than 200 community organisations to receive a grant through the CommBank Flood Relief fund, which is helping local communities recover and rebuild following the devastating floods.

Further information about CommBank’s Flood Relief work can be found at the website: www.commbank.com.au/floodrelief