First time Outback Links volunteer, Jackie, says she and her family will remain lifelong friends with the farmers they supported while volunteering at a farm in Tarong, in Queensland’s South Burnett Region.
Along with her husband Wayne and their 33-year-old-son Chris, Jackie spent a month at the property of Des, a farmer in his mid-70s who lives with his 90-year-old sister. Des had been rushed to hospital following complications after undergoing six harrowing health related complications in the previous six months.
Des and his sister Gloria had been in desperate need of help while Des was in hospital and later recovering at home. He wanted to ensure someone was around to keep an eye on his elderly sister and to feed their livestock: 22 horses, 18 dogs and an assortment of beloved pets. Before taking on the volunteer role, Jackie did her homework. She has a background in aged care disability services and her son Christopher has a physical disability.
“I wanted to make sure we could match our skills to the right volunteer project, and to ensure the property would be suitable for Christopher’s needs,” she said
Working closely with our Outback Links team, the family settled on volunteering at Des and Gloria’s farm. Initially intending to stay for just two weeks, Jackie and her family extended their trip to four weeks because they could see
that Des and Gloria were in dire need of help.
“My husband, Wayne, is a farmer – born and bred, and he is very knowledgeable about the land, mechanics and animals,” Jackie said. “Both Wayne and Chris have a real connection with the land and it was a wonderful opportunity for them to reconnect to the bush.”
Chris was often dad’s offsider on jobs around the farm and he helped Jackie with the twice-daily chore of feeding the horses. “He’d get on his quad bike and help load the hay as well as helping with odd jobs around the property and farmhouse.” Those odd jobs included setting multiple mouse traps every day, in an attempt to control the growing mouse plague. Meanwhile, Jackie, using the knowledge she gained during her career, and tapping some contacts she had in government, began working with a district nurse to set up some domestic assistance for Des and Gloria. When Des was discharged from hospital, she also arranged for a local district nurse to visit him and establish a
During their time at the farm, the family became close to some of Des and Gloria’s neighbours and friends. ”We have kept in touch with them and some, I have no doubt, will be lifelong friends.”
From Chris’ perspective, the volunteer project was a win/win.
“I grew up on a hobby farm and I miss the land, so it was great to be on an outback property,” Chris told us.
“Like mum and dad, I also love helping people and it felt good to lend a hand to people who
really needed it.” Jackie says the family’s volunteering on the farm was a great life experience for them all, and she would encourage others to consider volunteering for Outback Links.
“It’s good for the soul, and there is just so much need out there in rural and remote communities.”
Jackie is not wrong: there is a huge demand for volunteers to work with farmers and communities across the country.
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