Embattled residents urged to come forward with insurance woes
'TOGETHER we are stronger' was the prevailing message at a community gathering in Cannonvale at the weekend for those frustrated by Cyclone Debbie insurance hold-ups.
More than 50 residents, local politicians and community advocates were at the emotionally-charged meet-and-greet at the Reef Gateway Hotel, which also featured guest speaker Terry Linford from the Queensland Reconstruction Authority (QRA).
Mr Linford urged victims feeling stymied at every turn to relay their hardship stories to meeting organiser Rebecca Woods, chief executive officer of the Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre.
"I don't have a magic wand - I can't hit them [the insurance companies] over the head and get them to the table," said Mr Linford.
"To do that, we need to start gathering as many of your stories as we can so we can put the facts forward and start acting on those facts."
Vowing to return soon, Mr Linford also said he intended to brief the financial ombudsman on the insurance crisis in the Whitsundays.
"We want to take a holistic view to solving your problems and do all we can to get you back on your feet," he said
Ms Woods implored the gathering to spread the word about the importance of coming forward with their tales of adversity.
Anyone who has logged into the Cyclone Debbie Insurance Claims Facebook page recently will know the issue is growing in severity by the day.
"If you know 20 people in this situation, go tell them so they can come forward too," said Ms Woods.
Ms Woods said after meeting with Queensland's Deputy Premier Jackie Trad recently she realised their best hope for a resolution lay in lobbying "higher levels of government".
"We need to get them on board in order to get some significant progress made," she said at the weekend.
"Basically, to tell the insurance companies they need to pull their finger out."
Ms Woods said Mr Lindford's attendance at the "pro-active” meeting was a significant step in that direction.
She said it was important to let everyone know that they are not alone and that people are working behind the scenes to solve their issues.
"Together we are working toward the same goal."
Ms Woods said a representative of the Insurance Council of Australia was invited to attend, but chose instead to focus on the one-on-ones it's currently holding in the area.
"I'm interested to know how the Insurance Council of Australia responds from their appointments," she said.
"And I will sit and re-evaluate with Terry because I will follow-up with everyone who was here and from there we should be able to form a plan moving forward."