Breaking barriers and building bridges in South Australia
One of the most incredible things that we get to see here at Frontier Services is when the work of our Bush Chaplains meets the generosity of our Outback Links volunteers. It’s a wonderful thing to witness the difference that it makes for people living in Remote Australia.
In late September, that’s exactly what happened. Our Parkin-Sturt Remote Area Bush Chaplain, Sunny led a group of 17 volunteers on a group trip to Copley in South Australia. The trip was a result of Sunny’s work with a local Aboriginal family and community. In connecting with the community who live in a remote region more than 600km from Adelaide, he discovered that they had a vision to restore and save Adnyamathanha local country. In recent years, the traditional lands have been mismanaged and the local community was looking for a way to restore it to generate a sustainable income while respecting the cultural significant of the place.
That’s where Outback Links came in. Sunny told us that it was a big job that would need many hands to make light work. There was a long list of jobs that needed to be done; painting, plumbing, electrical repairs and gardening. But the volunteers were also there to provide much needed company for the people living in such a remote location. Our Outback Links volunteers are known for their love of having a yarn, sharing a cuppa and bringing a smile to the faces of the people they meet. And that’s exactly what they did.
We spoke to Sunny before he headed out on the trip to find out what his expectations were for the project.
“I’ve been visiting the community for the last two years and building a friendship with them,” he told us. “I’m sure that the practical support will lead to an even deeper friendship.”
Speaking to Sunny, it’s clear that this project is close to his heart.
“For me, walking with them and being part of the this work, we’ve become like family to this community,” he says.
Sunny explained that he hoped that the volunteers would also get something out of the experience.
“It’s what I call breaking the barriers and building the bridges. Lots of our volunteers are retirees from the city so it will be an opportunity for them to share their stories and experience a different way of life.”
Two of the volunteers heading out on the trip are husband and wife Colin and Fiona. Having volunteered with Frontier Services on a number of different placements before, they joined the group project in the hopes of being able to meet new people and help out the community they’ll be working in. Having spent much of 2019 on a grey nomads trip, Colin tells us that he’s hoping to “compare notes” with other volunteers about their travels.
Fiona adds that she expects they’ll be doing similar work to what they’ve done on their previous placements: “Fix-it work, painting and cleaning, cooking and maybe a bit of fencing.” Colin chimes in to tell us that Sunny has already been in touch to provide a long list of maintenance tasks that he hope the volunteers will help with. As a retired farmer and draughtsman, Fiona is pretty confident that Colin will enjoy the work. “He’s very handy,” she tells us.
When we ask them both what they would tell Frontier Services supporters who are considering volunteering Colin tells us, “It’s very rewarding and fulfilling to be with and for people.” And if you’re unsure, Fiona has some wise words: “Give it a go or you’ll never know.”
This article is adapted from the November 2020 edition of Frontier News.