Aurion and The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
Natural disasters can strike at any moment, wreaking havoc on communities and leaving many without essential resources. When an Australian city experienced a deadly flood in 2019, forcing thousands to evacuate, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority needed to find a way to ensure its employees were paid while its payroll system was down.
In January 2019, an unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime flood-hit Townsville, a city of 180,000 people in north-eastern Australia. A record 1.4 meters of rain had fallen in less than two weeks, and the resulting flooding claimed five lives, left 1,500 homes uninhabitable, and caused nearly $1.3 billion in damages.
Thousands of families and businesses were forced to evacuate to higher ground, including the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), a government agency affectionately referred to by our local team as “GRANDPA.”
For over 40 years, GBRMPA has led Australia’s efforts to manage and conserve the Great Barrier Reef, one of the world’s natural wonders and the core of the region’s economic and scientific activity. The flooding happened the same week GBRMPA was due to carry out payroll, and with no one able to access the office, there was no way to pay their staff. Desperate to make sure their employees had enough money for resources in a time of disaster, the GBRMPA team quickly sought help.
“The scale of the disaster was immediately clear, and we couldn’t leave our team without pay at such a difficult time,” explained Vin Illin, Manager of People Operations at GBRMPA.
Vin made an emergency call to GBRMPA’s long-time partner, Aurion, for help. The Australia-based payroll and HR technology company immediately formed a response team to find a way to make the payments. “When we received the call, we knew we had to help,” Aurion Business Process Outsourced Services (BPOS) Manager, Alicia McAllister, expressed.
Though GBRMPA and Aurion’s partnership spans over 15 years’, this was the first time GBRMPA had needed to completely outsource their payroll operations. It would usually take about a week to get through the amount of work needed to arrange the payments, but the Aurion team worked through the night to process payroll remotely in a record 18 hours, ensuring the correct salaries made it into the bank accounts of all of GBRMPA’s employees on time.
“It’s amazing how quickly the Aurion staff responded to the crisis,” said Vin. “They took their support to a new level with additional speed, effort, and kindness. Thanks to them, we were able to deal with the challenges we faced, and get back to continuing to protect this beautiful reef.
Alicia and her BPOS team were delighted to have helped GBRMPA through a tough spot: “All of our clients are incredibly important to us, and we always try to go the extra mile to help any of them in times of trouble.”
In the aftermath of the tragic flood, GBRMPA has resumed their vital mission to protect and maintain the Great Barrier Reef’s 400,000-kilometer stretch. Their trusted partner Aurion has continued to support GBRMPA’s team in their transition back to normal payroll operations, as part of the authority’s recovery efforts. “We continue to offer our best wishes and support for a speedy recovery to all of the GBRMPA team members impacted by the Townsville flood crisis and the ongoing recovery efforts,” said Aurion Executive General Manager, Kathryn Wilson.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been affected by recent natural disasters