top of page
  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

Mateship Without Judgement

An outlet that’s all about inclusion, togetherness and an opportunity to head into the great outdoors is Bamboo Projects.

 

Supporting others to achieve their goals in a natural and attainable way  –  that is the essence of Bamboo Projects. Husband and wife dynamic duo and Bamboo Projects directors Chris and Kristy are the faces behind the organisation, which has a focus on supporting people in our community struggling with mental health or disability to have a better quality of life. They run programs that are about bringing people together, creating an outlet for them to feel included and be with others while cleaning up waterways in the process. With an amazing team of mentors and volunteers, Chris and Kristy are both grateful for the opportunity to be able to make a difference to others.


Knowing all too well the difficulties of struggling with mental health is what spurred Chris on to be a part of the change and do something about it. He is an ex-tradie who spent 20 years in the construction industry and saw firsthand increasing suicide rates, even on job sites he worked on.


Chris himself has also survived panic attacks since the age of 14 and has had two mental breakdowns. When he returned to work after his second mental breakdown, he would talk to other guys on site about what he had been through and he found they opened up about their own mental health battles, but couldn’t talk to their family or GP about it.


Mateship Without Judgement

“Chris started offering to take guys fishing in his boat to share strategies on how he got through his mental health struggles,” Kristy says. “This created a comfortable environment for the guys he took on the boat to talk about their mental health and how they could work together to feel better. It was about creating mateship, with no judgement.”


Kristy is a special education teacher and also an environmental scientist. Her skills are used to support people with disabilities to gain access and inclusion to outdoor therapies, as well as education on Bamboo Projects Cleaning up the Waterways Programs. Kristy wants to make being on the water accessible to any ability level and that’s where Bamboo Projects Cleaning up the Waterways program grew from.


“We have land-based teams that walk along the foreshore picking up marine debris, as well as boat crews that go deep into the mangroves or beaches to collect,” Kristy says. “I educate people involved in the program about our unique coastal region and ways in which we can support it for the long term.


“We are so fortunate to live along the beautiful coastlines of Moreton Bay. The Pumicestone Passage is recognised as one of the most important marine and bird habitats on the east coast of Australia. We want everyone to enjoy our coastlines, for generations to come. We do this in two ways, one is to provide access and inclusion to it in our all-abilities boats. If you can feel it, see it and touch it – you are much more likely to fall in love with it and care for it. We also do this through our Cleaning up the Waterways program, in which we remove marine debris  –  averaging 400kg to one tonne every trip!”


Inspiration for their organisation name came from their friend and mentor Les Brown, who shared his knowledge about the Chinese Bamboo Tree, a process which resonated with Chris and Kristy.


"You have to continuously work on yourself and nurture yourself. And your results won’t happen overnight, but with enough persistence they will come through."

“This tree takes five years to grow,” Kristy says. “When they go through a process of growing it, they have to water and fertilise the ground where it is every day and it doesn’t break through the ground until the fifth year. But once it breaks through the ground, within five weeks it grows 90 feet tall.


“This is something that we now relate to our mental health journey. You have to continuously work on yourself and nurture yourself. And your results won’t happen overnight, but with enough persistence, they will come through.”


It’s not lost on Chris and Kristy that they are one of many organisations striving to help others. But they have an overarching goal they work towards as their main focal point.


“We believe that supporting someone to achieve their goals doesn’t have to be hard. It needs to be simple attainable steps that we can work on together, as mates, to feel supported and connected along the way,” Kristy says. “We have the potential to grow into a huge organisation, as we are a registered charity and a registered NDIS organisation.


“There is a demand for our services as they are unique and we often have a waitlist for boat trips. But we know if we grew too big too soon, then we wouldn’t have a small community feel and we want to ensure we are providing a high level of support from all of our team to our participants.”


Although they receive awards and recognition for the work they do, the true meaning lies in the day-to-day efforts of supporting others and helping them reach their own goals. With many beautiful memories already created and plenty more to come, Kristy speaks fondly of a man they see regularly, whose life changed after having a stroke in his mid-40s.


“Having an acquired disability later in life can be really tricky to navigate mentally,” she says. “Before his stroke, he loved camping, fishing, 4WDing and having barbecues with his friends. Since his stroke, he felt like all of that had changed.


“After knowing him for about a year, we knew that one of his goals was to walk on the sand once again. He was very nervous about how unsteady he would be, but we encouraged him and told him we were there to hold him up and stabilise him. He finally took a few steps on the sand, turned to us and patted his chest saying ‘proud, proud.’ It was such a beautiful moment and one that I am sure many take for granted when they walk along the beach.”


The dynamic of their organisation has grown along with them since they first started, with Chris and Kristy always looking for ways to make it better and more accessible for those who need them.


“Chris was at the boat ramp one day, before Bamboo Projects came about, and met a man in a wheelchair. He said to Chris ‘How do I get on a boat like that if I am in a wheelchair?’ Chris said to him that he would build a boat that had wheelchair access and in 2018, that’s what we did,” Kristy says.


“We have a few different-sized boats that are wheelchair accessible, but we have learnt over the years that not having a toilet on board was a big barrier. So, now we have fundraised and self-funded a new 9.5-metre all-abilities accessible boat with a toilet on board. This boat was custom-designed by Rebel Boats in Clontarf and is at the painters as we speak. It should be hitting the water in mid-2024.


Mateship Without Judgement

“Not only will this boat provide access to the waterways for people of any ability, but it will have a larger deck space to hold marine debris when we do the waterways clean-ups. We still need funding to get us over the line and we’d love it if any local businesses would like to jump on board as a sponsor.”


The bigger boat is their biggest goal yet and they are excited to unveil it this year, but that’s not all, with a high chance you’ll come across the Bamboo Projects team out in the community.


“We want to continue creating the ripple effect in helping others,” Kristy says. “You never know what someone is going through and if you can be the non-judgemental person that they reach out to in their time of need, then that is pretty special!”


To find out more about Bamboo Projects, visit their website www.bambooprojects.org and follow them on Facebook and Instagram. You can also reach them via email hello@bambooprojects.org or by phoning 0423 346 605.

12 views

Related Posts

See All
bottom of page