When photos of a council clean-up in were shared online on Tuesday, a firey debate erupted in the comments between locals.
The "disgusting" scenes outside the Toukley Community Centre in the Central Coast of New South Wales left some residents fuming with claims that bags of brand new nappies, sanitary items, toys and games had been carelessly dumped.
"[They were] all in good condition. Is this how community donations are handled?" one resident fumed in a post on Facebook. "The amount of families that could be helped with these items hurts my heart. What an absolute waste. I feel ashamed to be human."
Locals furious about 'disgusting waste' of items
Photos shared in a Central Coast community group show a mountain of rubbish piled up outside a building on Header Street, once a base for the Toukley Neighbourhood Centre, a charity that offers services and support for the local community. Cardboard boxes, bags and plastic tubs are stacked high waiting to be collected, and some furniture items had been thrown in too.
Group members noticed bags of infant nappies still new in a box, and a huge bag containing multiple packets of sanitary pads. Many were angered by the thought of wasting "perfectly good "items that could have been donated to families in need.
"That is absolutely disgusting what a waste of goods for charities," one derided in the comments. "If this goes on people will stop donating."
"I'm so sad, these could have helped soooo many struggling families," said another. But some suggested there was "more to the story" — and of course, there is.
'Heartbreaking' reason why items were dumped
Bronwyn Barnes, Executive Officer at Toukley Community Centre told Yahoo News Australia all of the items being thrown out were contaminated with mould, and that they were devastated to have to part with so many essential resources.
She explained the items were not donations but rather things her organisation had purchased over time, and most of it was arts and crafts equipment used for family events with some nappies and sanitary items.
"They were brand new two years ago, things that we purchased, however, they have been mould contaminated from the building," she explained. The Toukley Neighbourhood Centre organisation was forced to vacate the building after it flooded two years ago and became riddled with mould, but items were not cleared out by the council until now.
'Difficult time' for local charity
Ms Barnes saw the Facebook post and was upset to see the pile of rubbish had been "falsely represented". Some residents had been "rummaging through it" taking things, she said, even after she'd warned them they'd been destroyed by mould.
"It’s heartbreaking for us and it's a huge cost to the organisation to replace all that," she said, adding that the centre has been forced to pay commercial rent since moving out of the Header Street building without any compensation from the local council.
"We’ve had to move four times and it’s been very difficult for the organisation," Ms Barnes said. She was also annoyed to see the rubbish hadn't been collected when promised.
"It was a rubbish removal organised by Central Coast Council and the Cleanaway truck did not show up at 2pm Monday when it was supposed to be removed," she explained.
"We actually had to call Cleanaway yesterday and tell them we were going to get a health inspector there within half an hour if they did not remove the rubbish," she told Yahoo on Wednesday, adding the truck arrived to clear the rubbish soon after.
Yahoo News Australis contacted Central Coast Council for further comment.
Social media responds to 'sad' post
Responding to the post, some locals said it was "extremely sad" to see the reason for the waste. Many agreed "contaminated items should not be given out to the public."
"This service is always for the people they would never intentionally throw out items unless of course they were no good," one said.
"I imagine the workers there would have been quite heartbroken themselves having to do this. But they do have strict rules they need to go by," another wrote.
Another agreed the workers would have been "shattered". "Something's obviously gone wrong for them to have to do this," they said.
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