By Staff Writer Sheree Hoddinett
A spot of fishing could be the one thing that turns your day completely around. Making a difference in the lives of others in the community is a big focus for Emma Dyson and Shane Bourne, the brains trust and dynamic duo at the helm of Fishability Queensland.
If you haven’t heard of or are unaware of what Fishability Queensland is all about, it’s a not-for-profit group that offers a range of socially inclusive fishing and outdoor recreational opportunities for those in the community who experience isolation, marginalisation and disadvantage. They encourage time out on the water in Bribie’s Pumicestone Passage, run regular fishing competitions and also offer health and well-being group programs including a men’s group organised by Shane.
With a motto of “Fish and Forget”, Fishability Queensland aims to provide their activities and programs in a way that will build the confidence and skills of participants, offer opportunities to develop lasting friendships and above all else, have fun.
With an extensive background in community work, Emma (Fishability Queensland CEO), knew the impact and power fishing could have on the wellbeing of others. This was one of the main reasons behind getting Fishability Queensland up and running.
“While we’re out there fishing, people talk and tell us what they’re struggling with,” she said. “That’s how we identify a person that needs assistance going to an appointment, that needs assistance because they can’t pay the next bill, that needs assistance because they don’t have the right information or any advocates in the community willing to go along with them and help them. We’re also very peer focused, a lot of our participants either become staff or volunteers. Shane for example, started out as a participant and he’s now the President of the organisation.”
For Shane, Fishability Queensland has changed his life and he relishes the opportunity to see what differences he can create, especially through the men’s group.
“Guys just need that space to be in and that’s why we created that,” Shane said. “They don’t talk unless they’re amongst other guys and that’s been proven in the trips we’ve taken. When I first came to Fishability Queensland, I was very selfish, I was just coming for me. I’d turn up with my support worker and fish and that’s it, I wouldn’t talk to anyone. It became very clear, very quickly, that there were a lot of other people that we had as participants that just needed someone to talk to. That’s what I love about our community, you have others there, you don’t need to talk to them but you have an understanding and a mutual respect for each other.”
The group recently received a $5000 grant from Unitywater, which they are extremely grateful for, after losing government funding which meant they had to halve their program operations. But they won’t let anything get in the way of their mission and goal – to step in for others that are at risk of being overlooked and forgotten about.
“Our mission is for everybody - regardless of their situation. We are dedicated to making sure that everybody who is lonely and socially isolated and struggling, has a sense of community,” Emma said. “We’re very passionate about it and we want to continue to be able to help people. Even a small donation can make a big difference to a group like ours.”
Along with support from Unitywater, Fishability Queensland has received generous support from both Moreton Bay Regional Council and Member for Longman, Terry Young.
“Unitywater has funded our Fish and Respect program, which teaches safe handling techniques. The program is thriving and a big thank you goes to them,” Emma said. “We also need to say a very big thank you to Busy Fingers for granting us the funds for our new storage facility.”
Another organisation which offers a strong backing for the Bribie-based group is Holistic Horizons. They are providing lunch at the next Community Fish Off at Bongaree Jetty on March 24 starting at 10.30am.
“It’s completely free for everyone in the community who would like to come along,” Emma said. “It’s a great place to come down and meet us, even if you don’t like fishing. Come and have a sausage. It’s a really good community hub of people that come together to hold a free event.”
Visit fishability.com.au for further details about programs and upcoming events.