The goal of a new community bus for the residents of Woodgate Beach appears to be within weeks of becoming a reality.
Secretary of the Woodgate Beach Community Bus Inc Pauline Greer said a fundraising initiative began in March last year to purchase a new bus.
“During the course of the year we raised our target of $70,000 which allowed us to place an order for the 12-seater bus with Bundaberg Toyota. We anticipate its arrival sometime next month,” said Pauline.
The story of starting a bus service to address the isolation experienced by many people at Woodgate Beach is a tale of generosity and community passion.
Pauline said the commencement of a bus service for Woodgate residents for access to medical and other appointments in Bundaberg and Childers was initiated through the advocacy of local resident Margaret Featherstone.
Desperate need for community bus identified
“Margaret saw a desperate need for a local bus service and around four years ago she approached management at the Woodgate Beach Hotel for the use of its courtesy bus,” she said.
“The hotel was only too happy to oblige and offered the use of the bus when not required for its own purposes.
“What started as one trip per month quickly grew into once per week. The service provided a means to attend essential appointments as well as providing scope for social outings.
“In March last year the Woodgate Community Bus Inc management committee commenced submitting applications for funding to purchase its own community bus.
“We were successful in sourcing $53,000 in Federal and State community grants and $12,000 from local service clubs, community groups and businesses. Significant support also came from locals and visitors who rallied behind our regular raffles,” said Pauline.
Bus service delivers positive social impact
She said it was almost impossible to place a value on the positive impact the bus service has delivered to the residents of Woodgate Beach.
“Not only has every person who regularly uses the bus benefitted but this project has had a social impact on the entire community.
“Residents who were once socially isolated now have friends and enjoy catching up on the weekly outings. The health and well-being improvements haven’t just been realised by the users but by their friends and family as well,” said Pauline.
“The community at large has seen the impact the bus has had on friends and neighbours and their support has been shown in positive ways including growing our membership from the initial 16 to 104 with over 90% of them local residents.”
“This entire project is a clear demonstration of what big outcomes a small community is able to achieve,” said Pauline.
“As a community we are looking forward to the delivery of our bus and the opportunity to thank everyone who has played a role in securing this vital service.”