Two of Australia’s largest companies, Johns Lyng Group and Downer Group, are working alongside a Rochester earthmoving company to prepare the makeshift residential facility for a potential 12-month life span.
While being responsible for army, navy and air force site developments, the Rochester South site is of a scale not seen before for a civilian community.
The rapidly expanding Elmore Events Centre temporary accommodation site had 43 flood-affected residents staying in caravans as of Thursday last week, but location managers were making preparations for another 150 people to be on site later this week.
Downer Group, an expert in developing and managing sites such as the Emergency Victoria accommodation site, has taken control of co-ordinating the expansion of the Elmore site — unofficially dubbed Rochester South in its infancy.
While the Downer staff manages facility management at the site, construction of the 150-plus two- and four-bedroom demountable units is continuing, with Johns Lyng Group recently contracting Rochester-based Ward Brothers Earthmoving to assist in the establishment of family oriented housing at the field days site.
Hayden Benefield, site manager for JLG, said the involvement in Ward Brothers in the project had significantly enhanced the completion date of the site — which is expected to have almost 230 separate living quarters.
“These guys make one call, instead of us making 20, their connections are making things happen very quickly.
“We are using as much local knowledge as we can in developing the site,” he said.
Mr Benefield said Ward Brothers had been laying the foundations on which the buildings would be placed, with a significant amount of town water, sewerage and facility work happening on their watch.
The involvement of Campaspe-based companies in the Emergency Victoria site’s completion is in keeping with the forecast from integrated facilities manager, Downer.
Staff from the Downer Group arrived on site last week from Queensland and was beginning to source local labour wherever possible.
It has a recruitment team in place, working with various agencies to secure the services of people from the area who may have skills that can be used at the new accommodation complex.
There is no information on how many people will be employed on site, but Downer will operate the facility while JLG is completing the building.
Downer Group is working closely with Anglicare, the organisation responsible for drip feeding the population onto the site.
Anglicare is providing regular updates on how many people to expect, allowing for on site catering.
The development of the site is similar to that of a mining and defence community.
Staff at the site are accepting an expansive range of responsibilities, one accepting responsibility for the retrieval of a pet cat for one of the caravan-based residents of the community, from Shepparton.
In order for people based at “Rochester South” to maintain a connection to their community, four buses are being provided every day for people to go back and forth between the town and the Elmore site.
It allows Rochester South residents to work on their properties and also access to the agencies based at the 4Rs.
Several people are going home during the day to clean up and returning in the afternoon to the Elmore site
A school shuttle service is being run to Elmore and that service is expected to be expanded to allow for students to attend education facilities in Bendigo.
Daily lunch delivery is being co-ordinated through Elmore Bakery, while several different food vans are on rotation through the site and a mess hall has become an unofficial lounge area for residents.
Each of the people in caravans has been allocated a TV, a toaster and a kettle, while also having the mess area for hot meals.
Children have been supplied with toys and painting equipment and comfort levels will continue to be a priority as the population of the temporary community grows.
While still unconfirmed, the site is expected to be home for many of the people being relocated to Elmore to most of next year.
With the expected longevity of the site to go well into the second half of 2023, there will be opportunity for Rochester businesses to potentially win contracts at the site.