Automobile clubs across Australia have swung into action to help rural communities. 

Story John Dunn   Photo NRMA

Queenslanders Maddi Stanton, from Emerald, Hans Karner of Maryborough West and Sue Pye, from Miles, live far apart but have one thing in common – they’re recipients of much-needed support provided by the Automobile Club of Queensland Foundation. The foundation has just clocked up 11 years, during which time it has contributed more than $11 million, assisting 400 individuals and various organisations within the state.

Formed simply to help, the foundation has a Community Grants Program, which supports sporting clubs, community bodies and charities, and a voluntary initiative in which professional tradesmen and others tackle a variety of tasks, ranging from mechanical repairs and household help to fencing and painting, primarily in regional areas. “The foundation is proud to be able to support Queenslanders in their time of need, helping groups and clubs that play such an important role in our communities,” says the foundation’s senior coordinator Bridgette Muller.

Other state automobile clubs also have community sections. The National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA) has a similar operation in NSW, making regular rural visits in conjunction with the rural charity Frontier Services. This year Trundle, Bombala and Tottenham have been the sites of successful projects. In March, a group of 12 spent time at Trundle with one family whose members explained they were overwhelmed by having to concentrate on providing the basic amenities rather than being able to attend to the upkeep of farm engines. “As well as the mechanical work, we cleaned barns, painted the house, even read stories to young children to give the parents some much-needed time off and at the end of the day we all had dinner with the locals,” says James Simmons, senior advisor in the NRMA’s community section. “A young man thinking of becoming a mechanic watched and learned as we repaired a paddock-bashing Mitsubishi Magna and, when we finished, he said, ‘That’s been the best day of my life’."

This story excerpt is from Issue #145

Outback Magazine: October/November 2022