Last September, Paul Gray journeyed from Sydney to Nyngan to lend a hand to remote communities ravaged by drought. He told us about connecting with our farmers and the value of corporate volunteering programs for remote parts of Australia.
Paul is a mechanic and regularly volunteers with us through the Outback Links NRMA partnership. This year, he placed with Howard and Michelle Weber on their sheep property, Kia Ora.
“I think farmers can understandably get a bit overwhelmed with all the jobs that need to be done around the station, like hand-feeding the animals, and a few extra pairs of hands can really take the pressure off,” Paul said. “They just don’t get around to everything that needs to be done.”
Putting their mechanical skills to good use, Paul and his team member Heather were able to fix machinery such as the truck used for feeding, which needed new brakes. A lot of other vehicles on Kia Ora needed attention, like the quad bikes, cars and harvesters.
“They couldn’t believe how much we were able to get done over the few days we were there.”
“They were brilliant and got through all the jobs we needed a hand with,” said Howard. “It’s really nice having people around. Their company is like a breath of fresh air.”
Connecting with the people
Paul is only too happy to volunteer as it’s a great opportunity to give back during tough times. He also talked about the importance of feeling connected to combat mental health issues.
“I am a big believer in making sure I can connect with people and really find out how they are going. Connecting with real people on a farm facing real problems, you really get to understand what they face every single day.”
“It allows me to give something back. I know I’ve had some sort of impact even if it’s small. You get more the more you give. Also we stay friends either via Facebook or I give them a call every now and then to check in to see how they are going,” says Paul.
Paul says he would definitely do it again. “It is an opportunity to keep learning and growing with people. It’s good for you and good for your soul.”
If you want to learn how to become a volunteer, you can register your expression of interest and our Outback Links team will be in touch.
This article was adapted from the May 2020 edition of Frontier News.