RRA’s Mobile Community Recycling Service (MCRS) operates on the lands of the Dharug people throughout Cumberland, Parramatta and Blacktown in Western Sydney. The region is a cultural melting pot with large multi-unit dwellings alongside suburban family homes.
The region surrounds the Parramatta River, a place of great cultural and social significance to the Aboriginal people, providing a rich source of food and transport for thousands of years. A special place in need of protection.
Anthena Huynh grew up in Western Sydney. Her parents had fled Vietnam and created a life in Australia. They worked hard, learning a new language and raising their six children to embrace every opportunity. Anthena worked hard, attending university and working in retail to get by.
In early 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything began to change. Jobs using her degree were scarce, so Anthena did as her parents had taught her and took an opportunity to manage a retail store. As the pandemic worsened in Sydney in 2021, lockdowns saw the store close for several months. She was out of work and locked down in her home.
As residents like Anthena were locked down, they began cleaning out their problem waste. Waste that was potentially harmful to the environment, with a critical river system just kilometres away. Years of stored paint, gas bottles, batteries, motor oil and electrical waste were ready for disposal, but with lockdowns and limited transport options, disposal was difficult.
Anthena was offered an opportunity, a single shift, to help out her father, John, the Operations Manager of the Mobile Community Recycling Service. It took a single shift on the truck for Anthena to show her potential.
John said, “I didn’t know if she could do it, but she did so well, she wasn’t afraid to give everything a try.”
As demand for the service grew and grew, so too did the opportunities for Anthena. Councils added additional collection days, providing the opportunity for extra hours for Anthena and the other MCRS team members.
Together, John, Anthena and the team visited over 7,400 residential addresses, assisting residents to correctly dispose of over 220 tonnes of problem and electrical waste.
For Anthena, it was inspiring to see the community supporting the service and protecting the environment simultaneously.
Anthena said, “it makes me feel proud that as a community we are all doing our part in protecting the environment. I would like to thank RRA, especially my father John and Matt Curtis for giving me the opportunities and courage to get licences I never thought I would get. Having a truck licence now makes me feel proud knowing I can actually drive a truck. Obtaining my Dangerous Goods Licence has allowed me to understand how dangerous products can be.”
Even in the challenging conditions of COVID and La Nina rains, Anthena’s thrived on the job, securing a full-time role on the truck, and working alongside her very proud Dad.
The MCRS operates under contract to Cumberland City Council, City of Parramatta Council and Blacktown City Council.