Messages to Maitland

From one valley to another, community leaders are preparing to “extend a hand of friendship” to those hardest hit by last week’s storms and flooding in New South Wales.

Morwell Neighbourhood House coordinator Tracie Lund will start a series of message books in which residents can write words of support and hope to those in the devastated Hunter Valley coal-mining region.

Ms Lund grew up in Maitland, within the Hunter Valley, and receive constant updates on the situation from family and friends.

“Recovery for them is going to be an epic event. It’s going to take a long, long time,” Ms Lund said.

“In the Valley here we know first-hand the devastation of environmental and man-made disasters and the effect it has on the community psyche and I just felt that, you know, there’s synergies between the two valleys and the Latrobe Valley is in a position at the moment to extend a hand of friendship to the Hunter Valley in its time of crisis.”

Ms Lund said through disasters including last year’s Hazelwood mine fire and the 2009 bushfires, the Latrobe community understood “the pain of building again”.

“One of the things that is of most value when we’re in a process of recovery is shared stories,” she said.

“That brings people quite a lot of comfort and to know that somebody actually has your back.”

This week, message books will be placed at Latrobe City Council service centres in Moe, Morwell, Traralgon and Churchill, with plans to send them out to local schools and businesses over the next few weeks, ahead of a presentation to the Hunter Valley community.

Latrobe City mayor Dale Harriman said the project had his full support.

“I’ll be working very hard with Tracie to get our community involved so we can let the people of the Hunter Valley know we understand what they’re going through, that they have our support and we know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel,” Cr Harriman said.

Message book locations:

-Latrobe City Council service centres: 34-38 Kay Street in Traralgon, 141 Commercial Road in Morwell, 46 Albert Street in Moe and 9-11 Phillip Parade in Churchill.

-Moe Neighbourhood House, 1-11 James Street on Saturday 2 May, coinciding with a community market running from 10am-2pm, gold coin donation entry.

-Boolarra general store will have the books on 2 and 3 May.

-Morwell Neighbourhood House on Tuesday, 5 May.

-Alternatively, digital messages of support, stories and poems can be sent to They will be printed and added to the books.