Inspiring visit caps off brilliant first year

GREAT LAKES ADVOCATE, 4 Dec 2013...

Over the past 23 years, local not for profit organisation, Great Lakes Resource Recovery has managed Council's Tuncurry Waste Management Centre. In that time, it has worked with the local community and Council to transform our old 'tip' into today's Resource Recovery Park. This social enterprise has become a showcase of employment, training and innovation in waste management. This transformation has been so successful that the site now draws visitors from across Australia.

"With support from the Westpac Foundation, we have set up a new consultancy to share our model with community organisations and Councils looking to set up their own Resource Recovery Parks", explained Sarah Chisholm, Manager of the new Resource Recovery Australia service. "Just this year, we've worked with clients from Mount Isa, the Gulf of Carpentaria, Northern Territory, the Illawarra and Launceston."

Many local residents have been involved in recent improvements to Resource Recovery Park - the upgraded GreenShop with its new furniture restoration shed, the Green community garden and pizza oven, GreenBikes, new bush regeneration enterprise and the Wallis Lakes Mens' Shed. Behind the scenes, continuous innovation maximises resources that used to be seen as 'waste'.

"It's no longer just about rubbish and waste. We're focussed on creating local jobs, inspiring and being inspired by the community, and the latest innovations in recycling, reuse and environmental waste management. Waste really has become one of our community's greatest resources," said Craig Rees, Manager of Resource Recovery Park. "Every aspect of our social enterprise is growing. We now employ a team of 24 full time staff and 10 casuals and engage over 90 volunteers."

Recently, Resource Recovery Australia welcomed their first client from remote Indigenous Australia, Bynoe Cooperative from Normanton, Far North Queensland.

"It's difficult to quantify the amount of shared learning that came from this three day visit. Our staff were so inspired to meet with these Aboriginal elders. Staff asked us to set up an exchange program so they can personally experience life in a remote community," said Resource Recovery Manager, Craig Rees. "It's a great opportunity to share what we've learned with another community who is still at the stage of burning and burying their 'waste.'"

Feedback from Brad Rake, Bynoe's training and employment manager, keeps our staff inspired. "To all the crew... it was a great opportunity to come to your community. We felt so lucky to meet a great bunch of hardworking crew who believe in their vision. Big thanks for sharing so much of your knowledge in waste management. We hope that this is the start of a longterm friendship and that with your wealth of knowledge, we can become leaders in waste management up here in the Gulf."