GREAT HONOUR: Ashley Robinson will chair the state’s gambling benefit fund board, responsible for $53 million in grants annually.
GREAT HONOUR: Ashley Robinson will chair the state’s gambling benefit fund board, responsible for $53 million in grants annually. Patrick Woods

From baggage handler to $53m man

ASHLEY Robinson once loaded bags at what was then Maroochy Airport. He now finds himself in charge of the dispersal of $53 million in grants to community organisations as chairman of the new Gambling Community Benefit Committee.

The Sunshine Coast Falcons Rugby League Club president, and general manager of Alex Surf Club, is a tireless supporter of community associations. He is founder of the Island Charity Swim that supports Nambour and Currimundi Special schools.

His appointment follows the amalgamation of the Gaming Community Benefit Fund board he joined 12 months ago, and three casino funds in Cairns, Townsville and Brisbane.

The new combined board will be responsible for the allocation of $53 million annually across the state to not-for-profit community and sporting organisations with maximum individual grants of $35,000.

Mr Robinson, a former Nambour High student, said he has just spent a fantastic 12 months gaining an insight into the things people do for their communities.

"I never cease to be amazed at the things people are doing to help others," he said.

Mr Robinson said that having been one of the last to join the old board, when the decision to amalgamate was made he did not think he would make the cut.

"I was asked if I wanted to apply and it took me about five seconds to decide."

The three-year appointment will have him oversee four two-day meetings a year, when grants are allocated. Before they sit down, however, each board member is given a short-list, provided by the Attorney-General's department, which contains several hundred complying applications. By the time they sit down each member has already spent considerable time reviewing them.

"We get Blue Care, Oz Care, Meals on Wheels, just about every sport in the state, requests for special needs beds and shade cloth for playgrounds," Mr Robinson said.



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