It’s time to be thankful for, and recognise, cleaners! Every single day thousands of cleaners make the places we inhabit fresh, sanitised and safe. Cleaners are an essential part of our daily lives and during Covid-19 our local cleaning teams worked doubly hard. 

by Rebecca Mugridge

It’s pouring with rain outside the Nambour Plaza, and a buzz of conversation escapes the doors every time they open. People are happy to be here, they are smiling as they mingle and eat food together out of the rain. Nambour Plaza Shopping Centre cleaner, Unity, says working in Nambour is a pleasure.

“Everyone knows everyone, just like a country town. A lot of people around here are very nice, and people often stop to say thank you and say, ‘you mustn’t get that very often,’ but we actually do, a lot.” 

This gratitude is a credit to the town, and Unity says the people in Nambour make the place special. “Max and Kevie, they are here every day, there are many locals that come every day. Some of the locals also come to the shops as a social interaction.” 

She can’t stop long, she is a dedicated guard against the splashes of water on people’s shoes and zips about making sure no slippery water is trudged in from outside, keeping it safe. Her hard-working team includes Kiki Gleeson and Josh Hey. They work together, always busy, making sure everyone enjoys their trip to the shops.

“This is when we go under the pump,” indicates Kiki with a big smile, the kind that people always remember. It’s her second year as a cleaner at the centre and she says how happy she is working here.

“I really love it; it is an awesome team, so we are very lucky, and we all work well together. It’s also really rewarding. As you are wiping down things like the railings, you get lots of gratitude and appreciation,” she says. 

“That really leaves you feeling good. You make friendships and see friendly faces too. It is like a home.”

Josh has worked out they can do as much as 15kms in a day at the busy shopping centre as they circle around and between the entrances. “I really love it [working here].” 

He says it also keeps them fit. “We’ve all got Smart watches and things tracking our steps – 15 kms a day. Good shoes are a must,” he laughs. 

Nearby, Nambour State College is proud to have some long-term employee cleaners, like friends Michelle Swallow and Robyn Watts. Michelle is a fourth generation Nambour local who attended the school, just like her parents and has been a cleaner there for 18 years. 

She has met many people through the school. “I still see my grade three teacher, I run into her in town, and she still knows me after all these years,” she says happily.

Their team leader, Business Manager Kylie Richards, says the team at the school work flawlessly together. 

“We have an amazing cleaning team here, just the experience between these two is phenomenal alone. And they all just work so well together. If somebody is away, I don’t get a phone call, they just sort it out themselves.

“I just feel really lucky to have who I have on this team. The majority of our cleaners have been here for a long time, so they know the school inside out. I can rely on their expertise and experience because they just have so much of it.” 

According to the Sunshine Coast Council there is a great deal of work cleaners do behind the scenes in our outdoor public spaces.

“You arrive at a park for a family get together and the barbecues and toilets are clean, the picnic shelters free of rubbish and the parks look great. The people who work behind the scenes to make this happen – Sunshine Coast Council’s parks cleaners – take a lot of pride in keeping the areas clean and safe,” shares Parks and Gardens Manager Nicholas Coluccio. 

“At the beginning of the pandemic our staff were trained to operate a machine on council furniture including seating, benches, handrails and tables. The innovative device, nicknamed the ‘green machine’, was traditionally used for removing gum from footpaths and was repurposed to hygienically sanitise surfaces,” explains Nicholas. 

“And during lockdown the Parks Operations team used this time to get the region’s parks in tip-top shape. 

“What may surprise our community is that Council’s Parks Operations team maintains more than 507 recreational parks, including 299 drinking fountains, 1588 tables and 3285 seats!”

Tony Melmore, Jason Parker and Joe Lopez are three of the team members who work behind the scenes to keep our local parks clean and safe. Tony, a Sunshine Coast Council parks cleaner for more than 10 years, said it was satisfying to know residents and visitors enjoyed the park facilities.

“People from around Australia tell us these are some of the best kept facilities they have seen,” smiles Tony. 

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