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Feature image: Volunteer Field Lead Engineer and EWB Australia Board Member, Gavin Blakey, HHUG director Ella Rose Goninan, and volunteer engineer Dominic (Cav) Cavanough outside “The Ark”, HHUG’s Op Shop in Mullumbimby which provides free clothing and household goods to flood-affected residents.

EWB Australia, in partnership with Holding Hands Under Ground (HHUG), is mobilising professional engineers to volunteer their expertise to support flood-affected communities in the Northern Rivers region.

Following an outpouring of support from the EWB network, EWB Australia is now in the process of onboarding over 30 engineers and specialists to assist with flood recovery in the Northern Rivers region. Volunteer engineers will offer their technical expertise in a range of areas including civil, structural, geotechnical, environmental and water engineering. 

EWB on the ground

EWB’s volunteers will be deployed in the coming weeks and months as we work with flood-affected communities to identify projects that require engineering support. Volunteers will assist residents with geotechnical assessments, advice on waterway crossings, and structural assessments of buildings, so people can return to their homes sooner.

Long-term EWB Australia volunteer, Gavin Blakey, is assisting with technical coordination across the region as the project’s Field Lead Engineer. Gavin is currently working with our community partner, Holding Hands Under Ground (HHUG), volunteer engineer Cav and volunteer Bea Duffield to identify and assess projects and build relationships with local councils and flood-affected communities. 

“I stepped up for this project because I saw the devastation that had occurred in the Northern Rivers as a result of the floods. I look forward to working with other engineers to share our skills and experience to help communities to recover and prosper,” says Gavin. 


“This work is only possible because of the generosity of our engineering volunteers, engineering firms providing pro bono services and funding provided by supporters of EWB. Donations to cover our expenses for this important work are greatly appreciated.”

Partnerships for recovery

HHUG is a registered not-for-profit association, with a mission to design, deliver and support projects for regenerative full system change. HHUG is hosting and coordinating the Community-Led Flood Crisis Operations in Mullumbimby and Northern Rivers.

Ella Rose Goninan, director of HHUG and Renew Fest, HHUG’s annual festival, initiated a partnership with EWB in the early days of the flood crisis via long-term contributor to Renew Fest, Danny Almagor, who founded EWB in 2004.

“HHUG loves collaborating with awesome organisations and change makers to bring care to our community in the context of crisis, climate change and regeneration. We are super grateful for partnerships like this one with EWB as they are vital if we are to survive the trauma of mega disasters and, ultimately, heal and thrive. It’s a partnership that pays tribute to the many ways people have come together locally and nationally to help wherever help is needed, and is an affirmation of the enduring power of community despite all odds. We are only strong together,” says Ella.

Eleanor Loudon, CEO of EWB Australia, says “The impact of the floods on the people of northern NSW is still very much evident. We are enjoying working with HHUG on developing the processes and pathways for this new avenue for our organisation. We look forward to complementing the activities of community groups, businesses and all levels of government who have been supporting their communities since the floods earlier this year. And we gratefully acknowledge the generosity of our engineering volunteers, engineering firms providing pro bono services and funding provided by supporters of EWB, along with the tireless work of local organisations.”

How to support our work

If you are a professional engineer with a background in civil, structural, geotechnical engineering and/or program management, please consider signing up as one of our recovery volunteers. We have opened expressions of interest for our next round of recruitment commencing in September. 

If you are a photographer or videographer based in Northern NSW, please consider volunteering your time to assist EWB Australia in telling the stories of communities impacted by the floods. Images and footage captured will be used in blog posts and social media. For more information and to apply, click here.

If you would like to support EWB’s work with communities in northern NSW, please donate here.