Minister drops in on flood friends
IT'S not every day a State Government Minster pops in for afternoon tea.
John and Jean Bryan, residents in the Theodore Council on the Ageing's (TCOTA) aged care units, welcomed Minister for Community Services and Housing Karen Struthers like she was an old friend.
It helps that she is.
The Minister visited Theodore last week to catch up with the Bryans, who she has known for about two decades, and see how they and the town are rebuilding since the record flood that hit at Christmas.
The Bryans returned to their renovated unit about five weeks ago, after three months of living with a friend on a property just outside Theodore.
Ms Struthers was shown the Bryans' new unit.
“We've been friends for a long time. I first meet John and Jean when I was at uni and they lived in Brisbane then,” Ms Struthers told the Central Telegraph in an exclusive interview.
“I was friends with their daughter.
“They helped me quite a bit in my uni days.”
The Minister, who holds a Bachelor of Social Work with Honours from the University of Queensland and a Masters of Public Sector Management with Honours from Griffith University, said her old friends had spoken of the wonderful support from friends and the community they had received from the very first days of the clean-up through to the re-building.
Ms Struthers said her department had done a lot of work in Theodore during the recovery period, from the initial early days to providing demountable housing for families still unable to move back into their houses.
“We will keep that there for quite a while as families are using it,” she said.
“People are feeling like it's a long hard road but they are full of resilience.
“It's important to talk to people firsthand.
“I don't want people to feel alone.”
Ms Struthers said she talked to the Bryans when they were evacuated and stayed in touch since to see how they were recovering.
John said all the work to restore the units had gone extremely well since the Dawson swamped the retirement village.
“It's a marvellous relief to be back in here,” John said.
“It's been a great upheaval but it's been minimised as much as possible,” John said, reflecting on Theodore's strong community spirit.
Some residents are still yet to move back into their units.
Of their “very old friend” Minister Struthers, John said, “she was a spontaneous, nice girl; she still is.”