Elissa returns to Rochester

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Elissa Tobin (left) volunteering in Rochester with Personal Banking Group Executive, Rachel Slade.

NAB’s Elissa Tobin grew up on a farm near the small Victorian town of Elmore, two hours north of Melbourne and just 10 minutes down the road from Rochester.

“Elmore is a town of about 600 people. I went to high school in Rochester because it was the closest significant town,” she said.

After finishing high school, Elissa left her friends and family for the big smoke, to study at Melbourne University. But she left strong roots in her hometown.

“Lots of my high school friends are still there and some family as well. My parents were still living in Rochester when the 2011 floods happened, and their house was completely inundated”.

Because of its location on the banks of the Campaspe River, Rochester is unfortunately no stranger to floods. They were hit in late 2022 and then again earlier this year.  Just when the community was getting back on its feet.

“In 2022, Rochester in Victoria experienced its worst flood in history,” said Personal Banking Group Executive Rachel Slade. “Thousands of people were displaced, and almost 19 months on, many people still can’t return to their homes.”

For Elissa, the devastation for the Rochester community was personal.

“The recent floods would have been really triggering for some people. Facing the prospect of potentially going through it all again would have been challenging for them,” she said.

So when Elissa saw Rachel’s call for volunteers to join the NAB Foundation Recovery Crew to help the people of Rochester, she jumped at the chance.

“I saw Rachel’s post and the word Rochester just jumped out at me, so I followed the link to see what it was all about,” she said.

Across four days, more than 140 NAB volunteers drove up to Rochester to help NAB community partner, Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) in whatever way they could. Elissa and Rachel were both there, side by side.

“We were painting and gardening mostly,” said Elissa. “We were just keen to do something that would hopefully make even a small amount of difference for the kids at the primary school.

“It was a super hot day, but we were all very sunscreen and hat conscious!”

For both Elissa and Rach, NAB’s partnership with DRA has supercharged our ability to help our disaster-impacted communities prosper.

“With the precision and efficiency of DRA, plus more than 140 NAB colleagues willing to volunteer, we can essentially deploy supercharged working bees where support is needed”, said Rachel.

Elissa encourages all colleagues to get involved and grab any future chance to volunteer with DRA.

“The opportunity to volunteer with such a great organisation is a privilege that’s given to us,” she said. “A day of manual labour takes you outside of your day-to-day worries, and there’s something really nice about that too!

“You can see that you’ve made a difference, even if it’s a small one, because it’s there and it’s tangible, and you can see it in front of you.”

Despite all the great work of NAB and DRA, Elissa knows that the people of Rochester still have a journey ahead. And that there’ll likely be more volunteering opportunities ahead.

“Although on the surface it looks like recovery has already happened and everything is ok, once you scratch below the surface, even a tiny bit, you can you see there’s still a really long way to go,” she said.

“I was just so delighted to be able to participate in the day and to give a little bit back to the community.”

NAB Foundation’s partnership with Disaster Relief Australia grants $1 million plus in-kind support to bolster DRA’s community and corporate volunteer capacity over the next two years.

To learn more about disaster relief and support NAB provides to the community visit the NAB Ready Together website.

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