Miner ensures future of vital centre

Lorna Hicks, Merrilyn Richmond, Paul Bell and Anglo American Safety and Health manager Darren Andrews.
Lorna Hicks, Merrilyn Richmond, Paul Bell and Anglo American Safety and Health manager Darren Andrews. Tara Miko

A NEW corporate governance structure funded in part by Anglo American will ensure the Emerald Neighbourhood Centre can continue to play its pivotal role in the community.

For more than a decade, the neighbourhood centre has been a source of stability for families doing it tough in town.

But the small group of women has had its fair share of shoring up funding for the centre. Centre co-ordinator Lorna Hicks said the Whitlam government froze funding in 1977, and the women went to then-mayor Paul Bell to find help.

"Paul had even gone to Canberra and I'd written him out all these documents to take back to the deputation when he was down there but it didn't do any good," Mrs Hicks said.

"But the director was going through to Darwin from Brisbane and called into Emerald."

Mr Bell took him to the neighbourhood centre.

"I remember saying to Paul, 'What am I going to do with him all day?'" she said.

"He said, put him behind the counter. That was the Friday. Paul put him back on the plane that afternoon and by 11am on Monday, a fax came through saying you are now a paid agency of the Department of Social Security."

That funding has continued since, and with the new corporate governance structure completed, the community will continue to benefit from the dedicated centre. President Bell said the conflict between funding streams remained, but the new structure would ensure a steady stream of support for regions out to Rolleston.

Anglo American safety and health manager Darren Andrews said the $18,000 cheque presented to the Queensland Community Foundation, or the neighbourhood centre as it is affectionately known, was just a small part of the company's $80,000 annual community contribution fund.

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