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Outback Links mobile skills with needs

These days there are people of all ages travelling around Australia on holidays. Many of them want an experience different to the standard tourist run or packaged tour. Lots of travellers like to stop awhile and get to know locals, preferably off the beaten track (ie off the bitumen) and maybe even give a helping hand in exchange for a different experience. The answer to this need is a new program called Outback Links, an initiative of Frontier Services in partnership with the Commonwealth Bank.

This program matches up the growing number of willing volunteers around Australia (of a variety of ages and a variety of skills) with people in need in remote places. Many people in remote places have a hard time getting from day to day and appreciate a helping hand (eg odd jobs, light maintenance, child care, in the schoolroom, fencing, trades, painting, gardening, computing, special educational needs, etc).

When Rev Andrew Watts (Frontier Services WA, West Kimberley Ministry) told one woman about this program she said "I’ll have three bus loads please!"

The starting expectation is that volunteers provide their own accommodation and food and are available from one day up to four weeks depending on the circumstances. While some hosts offer help with food and sometimes with accommodation volunteers are told when they apply that the expectation is for them to provide their own.

Outback Links is being piloted in Queensland this year. Next year it will go national. However now is the time, if you are interested in volunteering to apply to Outback Links. On the website is an online ‘ To Volunteer’ form which can also be faxed. Volunteers will be covered for personal injury and public liability.

You can call Outback Links on 1300 731 349.  To read more go to the website http://www.frontierservices.org/outbacklinks .