Outback Links returns to the ridge - September 26-October 3

15 September 2015

Farm exp Apr15Outback Links 'tradie' volunteers are hitting the road again, giving up their time to help farmers doing it tough in remote NSW. In September, an enthusiastic group of 15 professional and 10 apprentice 'tradies' will get their boots dusty giving a hand to 30 farms around Lightning Ridge and Goodooga in North West NSW.

The skilled carpenters, mechanics, electricians and painters from partner organisations the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA), Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen (SALT), National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA), Laser Electrical Orange and MudgeCorp are what make these trips unique.

"With farms in this region experiencing a third year of drought, the volunteers will spend a week using their skills to help with jobs which would normally take years to do, or not be done at all. The group will include 10 young apprentice volunteers, as part of building a base of skilled Outback Links volunteers for the future," said Outback Links Coordinator Kate Parsons.

The trip will lift the farmers' spirits and give volunteers an unforgettable experience. As Aaron Abela, an apprentice electrician who went on an Outback Links trip in April this year said, "volunteering with Outback Links is rewarding because people are just so welcoming and happy to see you. You spend time with them and they are just so grateful for the bit you do. It helps ease their burden and it's good fun."

North West NSW is in the grip of a record dry spell, with the Bureau of Meteorology drought map indicating the lowest rainfall on record over a 36 month period for much of the area. Outback Links has worked closely with local farmers and local drought coordinators to target farms in need, allocating volunteers with specialist skills to where they're most needed.

The trip builds on earlier Outback Links trips to the Lighting Ridge area. Due to the positive feedback and requests from farmers in other areas who've heard about the trips, Outback Links aims to expand this support model to other areas in remote Australia. Outback Links is always keen to connect with new partners who can help achieve this vision.

"We're keen to assist even more farmers and let people in remote Australia know that people in the city care, despite the distance that divides us." said Kate Parsons. Outback Links volunteer program is part of Frontier Services, an agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, which has been helping people in remote Australia for more than 100 years. Drawing on this wealth of experience, extensive networks and strong partnerships, Outback Links is able to overcome the considerable cost and logistical challenges to providing support to people in remote Australia.

"Friendships formed between volunteers and farmers during the trips endure. Many volunteers return to help again. We look forward to rekindling old friendships and forming new ones, doing our bit to lessen the city-country divide." said Kate.

For more information about Outback Links, go to www.outbacklinks.com.au. If your organisation is interested in partnering with Outback Links or providing support for the trips, please email outback.links@frontierservices.org or call 1300 731 349.