Corryong is a country town in the north-east of Victoria, roughly an hour and a half out of Wodonga. Up in the high country at the base of the Australian Alps, most of the surrounding area is national park or agricultural land. Corryong was hit hard by the 2020 bushfires, causing massive property damage and displacing hundreds of people.
Dwayne Heath, a licensed plumber and gas fitter with his company Inspired Plumbing Services, had spent time holidaying in Corryong for many years. Simon, the best man at his wedding, is the local SES commander. He felt like Corryong was a second home. When he saw the extent of the damage, and when the immediate danger had passed, he leapt into gear. He organised a group called Tradies Bushfire Assistance including plumbers as well as builders, electricians, carpenters, and roofers, and headed up to the town and surrounding areas to help.
Dwayne started a GoFundMe and received piecemeal donations from other organisations like tanks, bobcats and accommodation, but more support was needed to get people back on their feet. Through a successful application to the Reece Grant, a grant of up to $50,000 worth of materials was provided to help in the works around the region.
“We rounded up as many tradies as we could, started helping people clear out their land, figure out what they’d lost to start to rebuild.”
Dwayne and his team weren’t short of work to do. There were burnt out buildings that needed to be safely cleared and demolished, temporary generators to set up, but the most significant work was in getting water supplies and sources functioning again. The local people needed temporary water sources for showers, toilets and drinking, while the infrastructure was being rebuilt. Displaced livestock herds also needed drinking water.
Dwayne and the team were already on the job, showing some true community spirit in heading up to Corryong and helping wherever they could. Dwayne’s team quickly grew to around 30 tradies on a rotating roster, and their manhours overtook their available funds. With the help of the Reece Grant, they were able to step up their assistance and amplify their impact.
With the Upper Murray works completed, Dwayne is continuing his important work in the East Gippsland region on Mission Rainwater. They’re working to help homes that have difficulty accessing trades and towns to ensure they have access to household water.