This year, Sly Bros celebrates 100 years in business, and have been on their current site for 90 years. They are one of the largest employers in the picturesque town of Woodburn which has the mighty Richmond River running alongside it.

Sly Bros, like other responsible businesses in Woodburn have worked hard over the years to mitigate flood damage by building their businesses to withstand the floods based on 1954 flood levels.

Usually, the community has 2-3 days warning before the flood levels rise, therefore the day before the floods, everything was parked up on a patch of their land that never floods including caravans, trucks and cars from locals as they prepared like they always do.

On 28 February, David & Mark Sly left work at 4.30pm and there was no flooding insight, however by midnight they had water running through their office.

This catastrophic storm was not just a flood but a disaster for the entire Northern Rivers region and if Government’s don’t act quicker, it could be a business, town and region ending event.

Imagine losing everything you own, having no insurance due to ridiculous premiums and being told by the Government you now must jump through hoops to access support.

This is exactly what is happening to the poor flood victims from 26 LGA’s who have been told they can access the DRP of $750pw as long as they have less than $10k in the bank, don’t have share portfolio, have used all their leave entitlements and the list goes on.

Let’s get real here. These people have lost their cars, all their belongings and in Woodburn 95% of all residences and all businesses in town have sustained enormous damage.

How does the Government expect businesses, who cannot make a living, to pay all their employees their leave entitlements, whilst they try and rebuild. How do they expect them to manage their cash flow?

The JobKeeper program introduced by the Morrison Government in 2020 was a business and life saving program. It’s disappointing that some large companies ripped off the system, however, for most businesses, it was a program that allowed them to keep their employees tied to the business and allowed them to keep afloat.

FTMA joins David & Mark Sly from Sly Bros in Woodburn, calling on the Federal Morrison Government to channel the disaster relief payment through employers to ensure they don’t cop another blow by losing all skilled workers from their town.

This has to be done before a federal election is called and we are placed in caretaker mode where nothing can be decided.

Eight of the 22 employees at Sly Bros have lost everything. Whilst they were out helping rescue the community, their houses were inundated with flood waters, destroying all their belongings and leaving them without a home, a car, a computer, and everything they owned destroyed.

It’s devastating and even though Sly Bros are struggling as a business, they have created a Go Fund Me page for their employees and we truly hope the frame and truss industry get behind these employees and donate if you are able to do so.

The good news is David & Mark are rebuilding. There is a huge task in front of them, but they are determined to get the business up and running and they are extremely grateful to the support they have received from their suppliers.

Mark says, he can’t believe their employees have gone through so much, have lost so much, yet they still turn up daily to help rebuild the business, and somehow, they even still manage to smile and have a laugh during the day.

Resilience is a beautiful thing, but so is supporting those in need. To donate to this important fundraiser please visit the Sly Bros GoFundMe here.

FTMA recently recorded a F&T Time Podcast with Mark & David Sly on the floods and situation they are facing, which you can listen to here.

Kersten Gentle

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