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Central West Queensland since 1923
Central West Queensland

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17 November, 2021

Of steel: Longreach man of honour

Chris Hamilton is a man who has a lot of valuable experience to share.

By Michael R Williams

Chris Hamilton delivering a speech at Remembrance Day in Longreach. PHOTO: Michael R Williams.

Coming to Longreach

WITH several titles, Longreach resident Chris Hamilton is known for his watchmaker like approach to business and community. 

He is the CEO of RESQ+, President of the Longreach RSL Sub Branch, Committee Member on the Health and Community Care Longreach Board, Committee Member of the Longreach Memorial Services Club, “and a few other things”.

Born on a cattle property east of Taroom, Mr Hamilton found himself in Longreach after a series of happy accidents. 

“The bush has always been a part of my life, and I had always had a desire to get back to it,” he said. 

Late in 2019, Mr Hamilton arrived in Longreach for “well-known local identity”, Damien Kennedy’s 60th Birthday.

It was during that time current Mayor Tony Rayner courted Mr Hamilton for the job of CEO of RESQ+, the job Mr Rayner was currently moving on from. 

Ironically, RESQ had been originated by Mr Hamilton in 2013 when his company at the time, Employment Services Queensland, had won the contract to deliver the Remote Jobs and Communities Program which would morph into the current community development program. 

After the company's inception, the role of General Manager would be given to Tony Rayner, and Mr Hamilton would go on to other work for the next six years before returning.

Rescuing RESQ

The timing was optimal for Mr Hamilton who had had enough of the city life and was keen to come out to the bush. 

“I wanted a change, it was time to come out to the bush,” he said. 

“January of 2020, I packed up and came out here.” 

Mr Hamilton said employment services wasn’t exactly his passion, but he still believed it was a job worth doing. 

“I think for someone to find work after they’ve been either unemployed for a long time or they are just entering the workforce is a significant moment in their life,” he said. 

“We are proud of everyone that we’ve managed to put in. 

“The ones that rip at your heartstrings are the ones where it’s been a kid from the wrong side of the track, they’ve grown up to a dysfunctional family, they’ve disengaged from school and community from an early age – once they’ve seen their vision they can’t be stopped.”

Focus and priorities

Mr Hamilton said his leadership style was learned from his time in the military. 

“Good governance has to come from the top and you need to have a good relationship with the board,” he said. 

“What I learned in the military is mission control, which is to be very clear with what want with a task, give your staff the resources and flexibility they require, and then make them accountable for it.

“The saying goes you can’t delegate accountably, but you can delegate accountability.” 

Mr Hamilton said working in the army's space helped him learn to think from different perspectives. 

“You want to let your staff work to their comfort level – you’re allowing them to be innovative and create their own ideas,” he said. 

“You don’t teach them what to think, you teach them how to think.

“When you are working at the senior level in the military, you are picking up a heck of a lot of techniques you can bring into your ordinary life,” he said.

Military through and through

Chris Hamilton said he had wanted to be in the army since the age of four. 

“I grew up on a steady diet of World War II books and Commando comics, Mum and Dad were born as a part of the Greatest Generation,” he said.

“Military Service, in no matter the colour the uniform, runs pretty strong in my bloodline – on Mum’s side they are direct descendants of Captain William Bligh, the Governor of New South Wales. 

“On my Dad’s side, there were a number of WWI Veterans and certainly WWII.”

Mr Hamilton would go on to join the cadet unit boarding school and the Army Reserve at University and has crossed over from full-time and part-time army work ever since. 

Then, when the former committee of the Longreach RSL Sub Branch vacated their positions, Mr Hamilton took over as the President.
 He is currently is hoping to groom a successor.


Q: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: It was a fella called Sam Doumany, and he was the former Queensland Attorney General, and he said, treat every cent like it has treacle on it and don’t let it slip between your fingers.A dollar saved is a dollar you don’t have to pay tax on. The other piece of advice would be from my brigadier boss, and he told me if you look after the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.

Q: What do you do in your spare time?
A: Not a lot really. Sleep. Mainly fitness, we have a community fitness group where anyone can turn up. We meet at the Qantas Airpark at 5 am Tuesday and Friday. The rest of the time, I kick back and read a book or watch Netflix or sport, I’m a sport tragic.

What is your favourite place in the Central West?
A: Birdsville. It’s surreal out there in the desert country. If you talk to the indigenous folk there, they’ll tell you it's where two systems meet - so, everybody goes to the coast for relaxation because that’s where the land meets the sea. But you got out there [Channel Country] it’s where the desert meets the rivers.

Q: What would be your final meal?
A: I reckon a bit T-Bone steak and a drink of rum.

Q: If you could have one celebrity for dinner who would it be?
A: I’m not much of a celebrity man, I’d rather have a business leader or community leader. I think, dare I say it Twiggy Forrest. I’d like to pick his brains.

Q: What is your greatest achievement?
A: My kids. I have three of them, an engineer, a lawyer, and a training lawyer. It was hard yards keeping them focussed, but once they knew what they wanted to do, they couldn’t be stopped.

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