Helping community to heal
That the ethos of R and C Civil Group, meaning 'lift up to give back' in traditional Gamilaroi language. R and C are a 100% Indigenous-owned and controlled contract services business with their offices based in Albion Park Rail, Liverpool and Nowra.
In 2020, R and C won a major contract with Laing O'Rourke to clean up bushfire-ravaged dwellings and businesses in Cobargo and surrounding districts, on the south coast of NSW. With a contract value in excess of $11M, the works included demolition, hazardous waste material removal, civil roadworks, and reinstating fire trails to access remote and difficult work sites. Within days of contract award, R and C had mobilised multiple specialist crews, and were the first contractor on site.
Robert Dennis the Managing Director of R and C who is a proud Gamilaraay-Wiradjuri man with strong family ties to the Yuin nation said the company registered interest via ICN Gateway.
"Laing O'Rourke reached out to R and C soon after registering our interest, and from here, we got to work, engaging and consulting with multiple local and regional subcontractors. We collated all pricing and compliance documentation and submitted the tender. We then received the award notice, executed the contract, and mobilised to site within 72 hours." Robert explained.
Robert worked on the ground supervising and directing all on-ground staff, subcontractor movements, heavy vehicle management, waste removal and logistics. Robert's Operations Manager, Miriam Wolstencroft was the Project Manager for the clean-up works who oversaw all programme timelines, WHSE management, administration management, subcontractor management and client QA reporting.
With 120 personnel, made up of fifteen subcontractors, the project was a logistical challenge.
"R and C's strategy wherever we operate is securing 'local jobs for local mobs'. We engaged over 70% of work personnel from within the immediate Bega Valley region.
It's always about keeping work local and providing opportunities, using their, expertise and local knowledge," Robert indicated
"The culturally diverse team included locals who had their own homes burnt down, we offered additional employment and full time jobs to local Aboriginal job seekers from the nearby Wallaga Lake community. They have since commenced careers in the construction industry since this project, and continued employment on other R and C Civil projects locally.
It was a special crew, people from vastly different backgrounds coming together and joining in to help fellow community members. We took our responsibility seriously at the early stages of the clean-up and recovery as part of the healing process for the town. Nobody took the job lightly." Miriam said.
The devastating bushfires hit Cobargo in the early hours of New Year's Eve, 2019. It tore through the main street, destroying hundreds of properties across the district. By the time the flames had died down, at least four people were dead, and many families displaced.
Within three weeks of clean-up operations commencing COVID-19 hit the region, slowing progress, and making matters even harder for the town to heal.
Laing O'Rourke reached out to R and C soon after registering our interest, and from here, we got to work, engaging and consulting with multiple local and regional subcontractors. We collated all pricing and compliance documentation and submitted the tender. We then received the award notice, executed the contract, and mobilised to site within 72 hours."
"The community had been waiting for many weeks trying to resume day to day life, restore basic amenities and help each other with shelter, food, and hygiene services, amongst the rubble and hazardous waste for over three months before gov sourcing and procurement processes were underway. Pressure had been mounting from the broader community toward Government agencies for clean-up works to start mobilising and getting resources out there."
Once R and C arrived in Cobargo at the height of growing media attention in March 2020, R and C worked quickly and efficiently through the cleanup. As more contracting personnel and resources arrived, by the end of the project, R&C had cleared more than 214 properties, making up around half of the total clean-up work in the region.
"When R and C mobilised into town we found a really traumatised community," it was like nothing else we'd seen before. You really saw it was a disaster and people needed help right then and there."
"This wasn't just a normal construction project - it was emotionally fueled" Miriam added.
"We had to look after our own health as well. There needed to be more mental health support for not only the towns' people but the crews working and seeing the trauma and loss over an extended period."
The town is still recovering, with the rebuild continuing - two years after clean-up crews moved on.
For R and C, the contract - one of the largest Indigenous procurement NSW at the time, has led to further work with multiple government organisations.
One such project was the Aboriginal Land Cleanup Program, with NSW Public Works Advisory engaging R and C to manage bushfire recovery from the 2020 disaster along the South Coast from Nowra to Eden.
This involved clearing bushfire-affected properties on Aboriginal controlled lands. The company worked with seven different Indigenous communities across the south coast to rehabilitate land to be safely accessed and utilised by local communities again.
Laing O'Rourke Testimonial
"I would like to pass on my thanks to R And C Civil Group Pty. Ltd for the great work you have undertaken at Cobargo. Not only have you completed an enormous amount of work on schedule, your logistics and planning in very challenging circumstances is a real credit to you. R And C Civils' can-do attitude has been a positive example to all the sub-contractors and workers on the project. Your community engagement, contribution to local businesses as well as employing local people has been fundamental in ensuring a comfortable delivery of results for this important project.
- Chris York, Laing O'Rourke, CBRCUP 202 Superintendent
For more information about R and C Civil Group, go to the company website or contact Robert Dennis on 0487 000 037 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with enquiries