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New life with Operation Flinders for sheds at Lot Fourteen

Posted November 21, 2019

South Australia’s unique outback intervention program for young people at risk is set to benefit from old storage sheds at Lot Fourteen.

The sheds, which date from the neighbourhood’s former days as a public hospital are no longer needed and will be given a new life as part of The Operation Flinders Foundation.

The interjoining sheds, which were located at the north-eastern end of the site have been donated to Operation Flinders by Renewal SA, on behalf of the State Government.

The sheds are being dismantled and will be transported about 700 km north to the home of Operation Flinders at Yankannina Station, east of Leigh Creek in the northern Flinders Ranges. This is being done on a cost recovery basis by Lot Fourteen site services head contractor LendLease and subcontractor McMahon Services.

Renewal SA Stakeholder Engagement Lead Allan Kane said the sheds covered a total area of 225m2.

“All structures, fixtures, light fittings, sinks and even all the bolts and screws will be salvaged and reused to establish the new facility at Yankaninna Station, which will be used to house four wheel drive vehicles, a tractor, tip truck and other plant and equipment for property management,” he said.

Allan said the donation was part of Renewal SA’s commitment to donate or recycle as much surplus equipment and materials as possible from the former Royal Adelaide Hospital.

For example, soon after the old hospital closed, Rotary Australia World Community Service sent 30 shipping containers of surplus equipment to hospitals and healthcare organisations across 21 countries including Nepal, Fiji, Nigeria and Papua New Guinea.

“It’s great to see part of the old hospital being put to good use closer to home, serving a great organisation like Operation Flinders which has helped so many young South Australians turn their life around,” Allan said.

Work starts on dismantling the donated sheds.

The Operation Flinders initiative was instigated by LendLease Precinct Coordinator and Site Manager Simon Jackson who has been volunteering and fundraising for the Foundation for the past 10 years and is a trained team leader.

“I see the problems amongst young people on building sites and I wanted to tackle them at the grass roots and be part of a preventative solution,” he said. “The building industry has been a big supporter of Operation Flinders.”

Since Operation Flinders was formed in 1991, over 8000 people between the ages of 14 and 18 who are dealing with problems such as family dysfunction, drug abuse and physical abuse have taken part in treks known as “exercises”. Participants camp and hike in the wilderness for eight days and seven nights, trek more than 100km in harsh terrain, carry backpacks between 15 to 20kg and learn skills such as navigation, abseiling, first aid and an understanding of Aboriginal culture. The experience serves as a circuit breaker to increase their resilience to tackle the challenges of life.

“You do see changes in the participants over those eight days,” said Simon, who led two Operation Flinders exercises this year and will lead two more next year.

“It’s bush therapy –it’s giving the kids the opportunity to be in a safe, caring environment to review and face the issues that are creating the problems within themselves.”

One of the features of Operation Flinders is that participants reunite with their teams for a follow up within a few months, when they receive a certificate in front of family and friends.

“You also see the changes in people when you do catch-ups with them and changes in people in society who had the privilege of doing Operation Flinders,” Simon said.

“I recently connected with a young guy who is working for a recruitment company who is one of three brothers. The older and younger brother are both in jail. He says that he would have been in jail too, if he had not done Operation Flinders 20 years ago. He 100 per cent attributes Operation Flinders as a lifesaver for him. “

Logistics Manager for Operation Flinders, Mark Thomas, said the sheds would be reconstructed on Yankaninna Station by a core group of volunteers, many of whom were retired tradespeople.

“We are very lucky that we have been able to source significant plant and equipment from donations,” he said.

“This shed will help us to keep those generously donated items secure and out of the harsh weather conditions.”

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