February 20, 2020
Back in 2000, it was known as SBCITS and it had just one van and volunteer drivers used their own cars. These days, Graham House Community Transport Services has a fleet of 12 vehicles which completed an amazing 9928 trips last year.
The not-for-profit community service transports people who would otherwise be stranded from all over the South Burnett (and beyond) to medical appointments, shopping runs and even social outings.
Its 20th birthday was celebrated at a morning tea on Thursday in Murgon with current and former volunteer drivers.
Co-ordinator Maree Anderson said the longest runs it makes are from Proston to the Gold Coast, but there are also regular runs to Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast and Toowoomba for medical appointments.
Its passengers come from Proston to Blackbutt, Cooyar to Gunalda.
Vehicles are securely housed in Blackbutt, Yarraman, Nanango, Kingaroy, Wondai, Murgon and Kilkivan.
“We keep the cars where the pools of volunteers are,” Maree said.
Enid Barford, who was invited to cut the birthday cake, served on the first committee but also recalled the many meetings which led up to the formation of the original South Burnett Community Integrated Transport Service (SBCITS).
“It took about 18 months to get going. The committee worked through 1998-99 on setting it up,” she said.
Since then, the transport service has gone from strength to strength. From 180 clients in 2000 to 680 clients last year.
“If the government had any sense they’d bottle it and take it all around everywhere!” Enid said.
The first co-ordinator of the service was Stephanie Whitaker who was followed by Leslie Dennien and finally Maree, who took over in 2008.
Maree said that when the service first started they used their own cars – “which was quite risky, I guess; you couldn’t do that today!”
Other rules and government regulations have also changed over the past 20 years, but the committee has successfully negotiated the challenges.
Maree paid tribute to the “three wise ladies” that guided the service in those early years: the late Ruby Crane, Enid Barford and South Burnett community development worker Julie Smart.
She said the service currently had 54 active volunteers but was always looking for more.
Anyone interested in helping should contact Graham House in Murgon on (07) 4169-8400.
More than 20 volunteers had been with the transport service for more than five years. South Burnett Mayor Keith Campbell and Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff presented certificates to volunteers at the morning tea with five or more years of service: