Local dynamo makes connections to contribute

The word 'dynamo' springs to mind when you're talking to Brad Quilliam. In fact you might be forgiven for wondering how he manages to find time to run a business alongside all his volunteering efforts.

Brad runs a printing business in Kinglake but he's probably best known in his local community for the work he does as a volunteer. He's been one of many tireless workers helping to rebuild Kinglake since the bushfires in January 2009 ravaged the community. Yet his passion for business and for volunteering goes back much further.

Brad is the founder and was President for the past five years of the Kinglake Ranges Business Network, an organisation that he began with other business owners in 2007 / 2008 to help local business members with advocacy, training, workshops and shared promotional activities.

He also played an important part in establishing Kinglake Ranges Radio, set up the Kinglake Ranges Visual and Performing Arts Alliance, was charter President of the Rotary Club of the Kinglake Ranges and is a member of the Regional Tourism Board, actively promoting the area. The list goes on. In January 2012 Brad was named Murrindindi Shire's Citizen of the Year.

Brad's historical knowledge of the region has been an important part of all his volunteering efforts. He has a passion for the community – it's one of his main drivers – and he's lived there for over 20 years.

He admits that the drive to contribute on so many levels with rebuilding after the fires may come from having seen first hand the effect of the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983.

He lived in Cockatoo and was able to witness how a community functions after a bushfire; seeing first hand 'what works and what doesn't'.

'I saw so much pain and suffering on people's faces,' he says, and I decided at that stage that I wanted to use my energies so that I was doing something positive.'

He's certainly made himself useful.

Brad's roles are unlike what most of us think of when we imagine volunteering.  He's often responsible for setting up or establishing organisations, rather than just signing up to contribute to an existing group. He really enjoys getting the right people together and his many connections can help make that happen.

'I love it when things come together, in ways you couldn't plan,' he says.

As part of his work rebuilding after the fires in 2009, Brad met with local earth moving contractors who were worried the work was going to outside operators.

'On the exact same day that I'd found out what they were concerned about, I accidentally ran into the person responsible for coordinating the main contract for earth moving as part of the rebuild,' he says. 'I was able to put the problem to him and we were able to work through a process for work engagement. The local contractors got their answers, and everyone was able to understand how to move forward. When things connect like that, you know you're on the right track.'

Brad doesn't recommend that everybody take on the kind of heavy volunteering workload that he has. His advice to people considering volunteering is to enjoy it. 'Do it for as long as you need to or for as long as you can.'

Visit the Rotary Club of the Kinglake Ranges website