Tradie volunteers prepare for Outback Links farm revival

The farmers of remote Australia need your help. Many are facing their third year of drought.

Without good rainfall, there are no crops or less stock to generate income for farmers. If vital equipment and infrastructure wears out or breaks down, there isn’t the money or means to repair it. It’s part of a downturn on the land that can lead to stress and depression.

Frontier Services, a national agency of the Uniting Church in Australia, has been helping people in remote Australia for more than 100 years. Since 2005, their volunteers’ program ‘Outback Links’ has grown to more than 1,000 volunteers who travel to remote properties to assist families through difficult times.

This April will bring a new development in ‘Outback Links’ when 10 young apprentice tradespeople participate in a 6 day ‘Outback Links’ farm revival in the drought-afflicted region around Lightning Ridge in North-Western NSW. This trip is a follow up from one in November 2014 where volunteers worked on 30 local properties.

Volunteers include plumbers, mechanics, electricians and carpenters. Under the supervision of professional tradespeople and host farmers, they will repair broken equipment like tractors, motor bikes and farm machinery, and rebuild infrastructure like sheds and homes.

“The majority of Outback Links volunteers are retirees” says ‘Outback Links’ co-ordinator, Kate Parsons. “However the need today is for an inter-generational shift involving bringing in a younger generation of participants.”

“The apprentices who are going on this trip are this new demographic, aged from their late teens upwards. They are giving their time, know-how and energy and Outback Links is the vehicle for getting them to remote regions where their efforts are hugely appreciated and where they will have authentic experiences of working on the land.”

Outback Links acknowledges the educational, trades, business and philanthropic partners who are helping make this trip possible: SALT (Supporting and Linking Tradeswomen), NECA (National Electrical and Communications Association), NRMA Motorserve, Mirvac, Laser Electrical Orange, Mudgecorp, TAFE Western, Bunnings, Parkers Organic Juices.
Frontier Services give special thanks to the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and Ian Potter Foundation.

Image credit: Sam Pursehouse

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