During National Volunteer Week in May, we took the opportunity to celebrate many of our Outback Links’ volunteers
on our Facebook page among them were two we described as “our incredible father and son volunteer duo, Michael and Alex Ziviani”. We recently caught up with Michael and Alex who were more than happy to share their volunteering experience in the hope that it might inspire others to volunteer for our Outback Links program.
The father and son duo were part of the NRMA volunteer workforce who completed a range of projects on properties in and around Bombala, 80 kilometres south of Cooma. It was Michael’s second tour of duty as an Outback Links volunteer, but a first for Alex who is in Year 12.
Michael and Alex spent 3 days on-site working on a cattle farm owned by Helen and Cliff, whose property was devastated by bushfires. Tragically, they lost their home, and their outbuildings and water tanks were severely damaged. When Michael and Alex’s 5-person crew arrived, Helen and Cliff, now living in a caravan, only had their power restored three weeks earlier.
Alex admits that it was quite confronting to see the damage caused by the fires and he acknowledged that the remote location was a far cry from his city life in Sydney. But he relished the experience of working alongside his dad and other volunteers while supporting our friends out bush..
“It was good working with dad,” Alex says. “It really helped us to bond. I’m currently helping dad on some renovations around our house, so we’re used to working together: but this was a very different experience.”
Michael is quite the handyman and his skills were in demand during the project. While he currently heads a leading business growth consultancy, in his earlier life, he trained as a mechanic and has a lot of experience in general building repair maintenance. While a qualified NRMA mechanic was on hand to repair farm machinery, Michael pitched in and he and Alex worked on a mix of other jobs from trenching and rebuilding sheds, to installing piping for new water tanks and restoring the gardens. The volunteer crew worked under challenging conditions (just 2 degrees on some mornings!), but they made short work of a huge schedule of jobs.
Helen and Cliff were overwhelmed with joy and gratitude, and Michael said he and Alex were both humbled by the experience. “Meeting people like Helen and Cliff and seeing their resilience in the face of so much hardship gives you a really different perspective on life,” Michael said. “We also enjoyed meeting and working alongside the NRMA volunteers. They were all lovely, down-to-earth people who had supported farmers through a lot of devastation in their previous work with Outback Links.
They had so much empathy for the farmers, and their enthusiasm for getting the job done was infectious.” Michael said he would encourage others to volunteer for Outback Links. “It’s the human spirit to want to give to others, but in truth, you get back as much or more than you put in.” Alex agrees. “It’s a good feeling knowing that you’ve helped someone who really needed it,” the 17-year-old told us. “It was really great to see smiles on Helen and Cliff’s faces, and to know that they are on the road to restarting their lives after such devastation.”
Thank you, Michael and Alex, and all our Outback Links volunteers. Your kindness and your willingness to go the extra mile is not just helping our country friends to rebuild their lives: it reminds those in the bush that they are not alone in their hour of need.
If you are inspired by Michael and Alex’s story and would like more information, check out current volunteer opportunities, head to The Farmers’ Gate or to donate click here phone our friendly Outback Links team on 1300 787 247