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USG Boral shares skills with schoolboys to help build a home with Habitat Victoria

A USG Boral volunteer team headed to Yea, 120km north of Melbourne in April to share their plastering skills with schoolboy volunteers and together help build a home for bushfire‐affected families.

Phil Henderson, Contract Manager Craigieburn and Country North Region, Richard Glaister, Service and Warranty Manager, and Dan O’Meara, Warranty and Service Supervisor North West, from USG Boral put their hands up to assist Habitat for Humanity, which is the leading provider of housing for low income families around the world.

“It’s a fantastic project and it was great to work with such an enthusiastic bunch of young people,” Phil said.

Boral is Habitat for Humanity Australia’s ‘Building Community Resilience’ program partner. In Victoria USG Boral has donated Sheetrock® Brand Plasterboard to complete three homes at Crib Point on the Mornington Peninsula with Habitat for Humanity Victoria, and is now supporting part of the 25‐home project in Yea, near the epicentre of the Black Saturday bushfires.

The 2009 fires wiped out more than 1,300 homes and 40 per cent of land across the Murrindindi Shire, making it extremely difficult for many families to find new homes. Habitat for Humanity Victoria has already completed five homes for families affected by the bushfires, and another three homes are currently underway.

Phil, Richard and Dan demonstrated the fine art of installing lightweight Sheetrock® Brand Plasterboard to 22 Year 12 boys from Melbourne High School; Victoria’s academic select‐entry public school. The students had given up their school holidays and precious study time to help build a home.

“We were asked to not just start plastering but to actually supervise and show them how to go about it and let them do the work, so that’s what we did,” Phil said. “We agreed that we had never met such a responsible and attentive bunch of blokes. And they did very well; they asked a lot of questions. They certainly weren’t sitting back.”

Working with youngsters and getting back on the tools was great fun, according to Dan. “It was really enjoyable. They were really switched on guys. They were there to learn and there for a good time,” Dan said. “It’s something different for us and chance to get back out on the tools which we haven’t done for a while!”

Richard said he was keen to help out when he heard about the project. “Normally we would get the plastering finished in a day. It was slower work getting the kids to do it but gives them an experience and a bit of insight. It was really good and I think we got a bit out of it as well,” he said.

Melbourne High student Aditya Talwar was one of the 22 students to be selected by teachers from more than 80 who applied to be part of the week‐long project, in what has become a popular annual Melbourne High tradition.

“Working with the plasterers was really rewarding,” Aditya said. “They were very patient and ensured the group was comfortable with the role. Even when we made a mistake, they would provide constructive criticism on how to improve and rectify the errors made. They were also very friendly, and made sure we were enjoying our time there.”

Also impressed by his team’s dedication to such a good cause was Mike Gibson, Regional Manager, Victoria/Tasmania for USG Boral. “Volunteering their time and showing their passion for the job reflects the calibre of individuals in the USG Boral team. It’s personally very encouraging to see and be part of this culture at work.”

But it wasn’t all work and no play, with the volunteers getting a chance to spend time with the families living in the completed homes built by Habitat volunteers.

“As a group we made an effort to interact with the families. It was a lot of fun playing with the children, taking them on wheelbarrow rides or playing cricket. A shout out to Perry and Curtis!” Aditya said.

Wen Kin Lim from Melbourne High said working together on the home was an unforgettable experience.

“Being able to meet the families helped me to view the impact of bushfires and other natural disasters as not just numbers or statistics but as real people that have been severely impacted,” Kim Wen said. “I felt privileged to be able to travel to Yea and provide whatever help I could offer.”

According to Habitat for Humanity Victoria Executive Director, Phil Curtis, USG Boral’s donation and volunteering efforts have made an enormous contribution to families in need.

“We are delighted to be building a partnership with USG Boral and Boral generally to support our home building program in Victoria,” Phil said.
“It was great to have USG Boral staff on site to assist and instruct the students from Melbourne High School to install the plasterboard in one of the houses currently under construction.

“We hope to be able to build this significant partnership over time to help accelerate our home building program in Victoria.”

Find out more about Boral and Habitat for Humanity’s partnership.

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