Volunteers fill the gap in rural and remote Australia

Volunteers fill the gap in rural and remote Australia

Volunteers fill the gap in rural and remote Australia

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NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK: 14-20 May, 2012

With National Volunteer Week about to begin, Outback Links is calling on more people to lend a hand off the beaten track.

The theme for the Week is “Volunteers – Everyone Counts” and we believe this is especially true for Outback Links, as every volunteer placement counts as we try to make sure outback families have someone to call on when they need a hand.

Our volunteers are filling the gap for people in rural and remote Australia who do not have access to the same services and support that are available in larger towns and cities.

On average, 50 volunteers a month travel to remote parts of Australia. They offer their time and skills for up to three weeks to assist families in a variety of ways.

“People living in remote Australia cannot rely on the support and services that most people take for granted in the city,” said Outback Links Coordinator Davida Melksham.

“More than ever, there are fewer services available on the ground, where people live. With the lure of well-paid mining work, it is much harder to attract staff and labour on rural and remote properties.”

The long-term damage wreaked by floods and cyclones over the past three years has also placed extra strain on people in the outback.

Davida explains: “What sets Outback Links apart is that we are able to carefully match existing needs with volunteers who have the approporitate skills.”

“Probably the most common feedback we have from volunteers is that they have a whole new appreciation of the lifestyle and work loads for people on the land. They can come in and help with the endless, everyday jobs that get shelved because less help is available; that might be in the garden, in the schoolroom, in the house or out on the run. It makes a big difference for the families to have some additional support around, particularly when they are extra busy.”

While the volunteers make a huge impact in the lives of the families they visit, it’s a two way street, according to volunteers John and Shan Sharp.

“We get so much out of this,” they said. “The appreciation for what we do is phenomenal and we’ve met so many wonderful people out here. The more work we do on properties around rural and remote Australia, the better we feel both physically and spiritually.”

Often the experience forges life-long friendships between the volunteers and families, with many staying in touch long after they say goodbye.

Davida added: “As the gap between the city and bush seems to get wider, Outback Links is helping to bridge that divide, increasing understanding and building connections across the country.”

Find out more about Outback Links here or phone 1300 731 349.