Flooding in Lismore

‘This is about flood-proofing these towns’ – NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole

In March 2022, the NSW Government commissioned an independent expert inquiry into the preparation for, causes of, response to and recovery from the 2022 catastrophic flood event across the state of NSW. The Inquiry is being led by Professor Mary O’Kane AC and (former NSW Police Commissioner) Michael (Mick) Fuller APM.

The team is consulting directly with impacted communities in the Northern Rivers, with plans for virtual meetings in the Hawkesbury-Nepean and Clarence River regions in mid-June. It is not the only body looking into the disaster. 

At the 31 May sitting of the NSW Upper House’s Select Committee on the Response to Major Flooding across New South Wales in Lismore several Northern Rivers mayors and MPs attacked the performance of Resilience NSW in the aftermath of the February flood, with the lead agency for disaster management being called ‘institutionally incapable of doing the job’.

Colin Beard photographed by Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW

Rock legend the late Jimi Hendrix photographed by Colin Beard at the Monterey Pop Festival in California in 1967. Signed print number 3/25 was listed for sale on eBay this year for $A1,432.00

Photographer Colin Beard photographed by Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW.

Rob Crosby, St Vincent de Paul Society NSW communications coordinator, came across Colin Beard in the disaster recovery centre in Lismore a few days after the regional city and much of the surrounding area was inundated by floodwaters.

Like thousands of evacuees in the Northern Rivers, Colin, who is 83, had plenty of stories to tell, not least about courage and kindness of those who had rescued him from his flooded home downriver in Coraki and taken him into their home and hearts.

‘I realised the water was starting to come up and thought ‘I better get out of here,’ but I couldn’t find my cat Sweetie,’ Colin told Rob.

Morning rounds with Dr Hugh Fairfull-Smith

Dr Hugh Fairfull-Smith’s contribution to the North Coast community was recognised in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours.

On his retirement last year local GP Dr Andrew Binns wrote of Dr Fairfull-Smith that “it takes a special clinician with a broad range of skills to deal with the complexities and challenges of geriatrics. It involves diverse skills in managing complex chronic diseases, comorbidities, individual psychosocial issues, social determinants of health and family dynamics.”

As the first geriatrician in the area it also involved setting up multiple services for the elderly. Hugh’s first act was to establish the Geriatric Assessment Team. This was followed by a Respite Service, the At-Risk Register,  the Dementia Outreach service and the rehabilitation units at St Vincent’s and subsequently at Coraki and the Ballina hospitals.

At a time when there were no guidelines or procedures to follow Hugh showed great initiative and drive in just “getting the job done”. This spirit is still alive on the North Coast today as shown by the volunteer doctors involved in the recent floods.

NorDocs congratulates Hugh on his award and wishes him and his wife, Cate, well in their retirement.

Above: Jyllie Jackson with Bundjalung man Uncle Gilbert Laurie at the Lantern Parade 2022. Photography by Natsky Copyright - www.natsky.com.au

On the wintry night of 25 June, one of the year’s shortest days, people of all ages took to the streets with lanterns in all shapes and sizes. These ones were a tribute to the locals who used ‘tinnies’ to rescue neighbours trapped in the perilous floodwaters.

 Just how deserving was Jylllie Jackson’s Order of Australia Medal in this year’s Australia Day honours was born out by the success of her ‘baby’, the Lismore Lantern Parade, on Saturday 25 June.

 Now nearing its third decade, the parade was the city’s biggest community event since the Feb-March floods.

Dr Norman Rogers

NorDocs notes the passing in June 2022 of Dr Norman Rogers,a GP / obstetrician / surgeon in Lismore from the early 50s until 1984. Norm was the Government Medical Officer for many years and was frequently called upon in this capacity to visit the police cells and perform post mortems at Lismore Base Hospital.

He was active in local medical politics, being a Board member of both St Vincent’s and Lismore Base Hospitals. He served on the Board of the North Eastern Medical Association, the local branch of the British Medical Association, prior to the establishment of the Australian Medical Association.

He had a long term interest in medical education and was instrumental in founding the Richmond Valley Clinical Society in 1984.

He was a keen cricketer and golfer. In his later years he retired to a house on the river at Ballina and took up sailing.

He was predeceased by his wife Marie and is survived by his eight children and many grandchildren and great grandchildren.