Bob Davis makes at point at the Operation Hard Yakka graduation earlier this year.
Bob Davis makes at point at the Operation Hard Yakka graduation earlier this year. Alistair Brightman

Hard yakka but all worth it for Bob Davis

IT'S been hard yakka for the past few decades for Bob Davis and his team at Susan River.

Since 1985, he has selflessly put his own money and time into retraining troubled youths.

But on Wednesday last week it all became worthwhile.

"This time we've got it," he said.

Bob's life work had been chosen to receive state funding to help troubled youths.

To test the success rate Hard Yakka will receive $350,000 each year for two years.

"The amount of money coming through each year for two years is great," he said.

"But as I said to the Attorney-General, it's a small drop in the ocean."

Bob has worked hard for a long time.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie successfully navigates one of the physical challenges during a tour of the Hard Yakka.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie successfully navigates one of the physical challenges during a tour of the Hard Yakka. Robyne Cuerel

He's been running corporate development programs since 1985.

"At one stage we had 110 schools on our books for development programs," he said.

His client base includes police and military as well as major companies such as Westpac.

But in 2011 the future of his camp was on a knife-edge.

"I think it was just at the point where we weren't getting anywhere with Hard Yakka," he said.

Bob dived into his own money to keep costs down for parents.

He sold his house to help fund it and took out several loans.

"We were barely living ourselves," he said.

"At that stage we were very close to saying enough was enough."

However he had faith in the camp for youths and soon things got better.

"Of all the programs we were running this one had the biggest potential to help society," he said.

"We shortened the programs to make it more cost effective."

He made some strategic decisions like promoting his paintball business more.

Two years later, Bob could sense the interest Premier Campbell Newman and Attorney-General Jarrod Bleije had when they visited his camp earlier this year.

Over the years his youngest attendee has been 9 and the oldest 21.

Bob can also expect a few more parents at his camp with part of the funding agreement requiring parents to do a course to prepare for when the boys return from Hard Yakka.

True to his approachable and down to earth nature, Bob is grateful for the help he's had.

"The stories that have come through the Chronicle and the television and the community support in general have been absolutely wonderful," he said.

"I need to thank the QWCA, Sunrise Rotary Club, the RSL, people who have helped us out, Jobsmart and my team at Hard Yakka."

Bob has also deeply thanked Susan River Homestead owner Noel McLean.

"He let us use his land and he's saved us a lot of financial trouble," he said.

"Without him we wouldn't have been able to do it."



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