Former Rabbitohs players and Souths Cares ambassadors, Rhys Wesser and Nathan Merritt, visited Manoora today (Wednesday) to engage with young residents who are still struggling to come to terms with the tragic loss of eight local children late last year.
As part of their trip North to deliver a range of health and well-being messages to a number of communities, both Merritt and Wesser visited Murray Street on behalf of Souths Cares to pay their respects to the eight young victims and place tributes in the park, before hosting a free barbecue and meet-and-greet session at the Manoora Community Centre for families affected by the December tragedy.
“This is a community that’s been through a lot, but is still holding strong and we want to contribute to that spirit,” said Rhys.
“For us to be here, showing our respects and solidarity and spreading the message of healing is part of what we’re about at Souths Cares.”
The visit was organised by Souths Cares in partnership with the Community Healing Project, Cairns Regional Council and the Safer Streets Taskforce. Coordinator of the Community Healing Project, Michael White, said that the visit was a key way to lift the spirits of the community.
“This visit will help to lift the spirits of the children and young people of Manoora in the wake of such a horrific event,” said Michael.
“It will bring the community together in a positive way, reinforcing the message to children that it’s okay for them to have fun and to concentrate on their own goals and dreams while still respecting the memories of their friends.”
The Community Healing Project is facilitated by a committee comprising representatives from Indigenous service providers, family, community, community organisations and relevant local, state and federal government departments.
The group will work closely with the affected families and communities to provide support and to oversee key events such as the removal of the house at the centre of the tragedy and subsequent installation of a permanent memorial.
“The recovery is going to be a long and emotional journey,” Mr White said.
“This tragic incident has had a far-reaching impact, affecting the lives of those not only in Manoora and Cairns, but well beyond.
“Through this healing project, we aim to work with individuals, families and communities in dealing with the ongoing grief imposed by this tragedy.
“There is a need to rebuild communities, to re-establish positive relationships and encourage support and understanding within the affected communities.”
Souths Cares, represented by Merritt and Wesser, will continue their tour delivering important health and well-being messages to places including Cairns, Port Douglas, Mossman, Mareeba and Yarrabah.