As Australia’s first bank and company, Westpac has a long history of building strong partnerships with individuals and communities as well as supporting organizations that not only reflect Westpac values, but will also help create better futures for all Australians.

Recently, Westpac sponsored a pilot project that in a few short visits to far north Queensland and outer Brisbane, saw the Firefoxes founders reach over 700 disaster effected Queenslanders, including Westpac staff.

The FNQ component focused on the Cassowary Coast and Townsville. Westpac staff, customers, future customers, business networks and ordinary women (along with a few brave men!) from surrounding communities joined Jemima and Kate for breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper sessions.

Weeks later, Brisbane was the next stop. Community events were held in Goodna and Fernvale, meeting with a local group ‘flood buddies’. Women’s stories and experiences were shared, heard and validated in a safe and respectful environment.

Kate and Jemima shared the real story of recovery, the highs and lows, the unofficial timelines, the personal and communal recovery process. Through sharing their own experiences, Jemima and Kate were able to provide hope for recovery and the future, validate individual’s journeys, create a safe forum in which to acknowledge fear and to energize communities when it was most needed.

In addition to the immediate positive response from women who attended the pilot events, in excess of 50 women have since contacted Firefoxes, Anne Hely and Sarah Flenley (Department of Communities). They thanked us for sharing our stories of recovery and listening to theirs, and asked for our ongoing support and information to help them in their journey of recovery.

Westpac is clearly leading when it comes to doing the right thing. This is demonstrated in Westpac’s Disaster Recovery team efforts, staff contributions to disaster relief funds and commitment to building community resilience as part of its corporate social responsibility.

Most disaster affected communities have not had the good fortune to learn from those who have gone before them or to pro-actively prepare for what lies ahead (long term physical and psychological recovery). Through supporting this project, Westpac is changing people’s lives in a unique way- a contribution that can’t be measured by traditional means. You are making a difference in one person’s life, and reaching many more via the ripple effect.

At these events, seeds were planted for the future. Westpac staff and women asked ‘What might be possible in our community?’