Fijian Abattoir Workers Saved Lives During The Lismore Floods & Are Now Helping The Clean Up

A group of Fijian abattoir workers have become known as absolute heroes during the catastrophic flooding in northern NSW. They are, in short, bloody legends.

Throughout the week 45 Fijian abattoir workers have volunteered during the flooding of Lismore, including helping to save aged care residents and cleaning up post-flood.

They’ve been volunteering since Monday. Many of the volunteers — who are here as part of the Pacific Labour Scheme (PALM) — only arrived in Lismore three weeks ago.

Semi Sailosi Lutua, one of the volunteers, told the ABC that they found people looking for help on a flood support Facebook group.

“We just told locals we’re here and we could help out,” he said.

“I was going down in the boats with mates grabbing all the people. It’s so sad man, seeing all the water everywhere.

“We go from rescues here [in Lismore] back to the evacuation centre … We stayed up late until 2am the other night just to help out in the evacuation centre to help people out.”

Another volunteer Apenisa Marau told The Daily Telegraph that the decision to volunteer was an “instinct”.

“With the boys, it is more just like an instinct. They just wanted to be out there to see what we could do for the community, it was such a coming together,” he said.

The group of men also helped rescue residents from an aged care home after it flooded. They worked with SES and emergency volunteers to save the 63 care home residents.

Marau told radio station 2GB about the experience.

“It was really hard, and quite terrifying trying to get those elderly people out of their homes,” he said.

“Most of them were bedridden, in wheelchairs, some of them were just trying to stay afloat.

‘They were pretty shocked by the time we reached them, but we were glad we were able to get them to safety.”

It’s an extraordinary example of bravery and generosity.

That bravery is particularly poignant given our literal politicians are telling people to crowdfund for flood recovery instead of using, I don’t know, our taxes?

The Fijian community in Lismore have also volunteering during the clean up of the town. As well as helping with the practical side of things, vids emerged of the men singing during the clean up operation to raise the town’s spirits.

Even though some of our politicians treat disasters as photo opportunities, it’s bloody lovely to know that there’s still some powerful good in the world.