Q. Is there a cost involved to volunteer?
There is no upfront charge to volunteer with Outback Links. However, from time to time we run group bus trips, for which there may be a charge.
You will need to pay for a National Police Check and a Working with Children Check in order to volunteer. The National Police Check costs $30 and the costs for Working with Children Checks range from free (QLD) to $55 (SA). These checks last 3 years.
Outback Links is part of Frontier Services, a charity that has been working with people in remote Australia for 102 years. We rely on donations to be able to run Outback Links, so any donations or fundraising efforts are greatly appreciated.
Q. How long is a placement?
Volunteers usually help out for 1 to 2 weeks at a time. However each farmer can receive volunteer help for up to 4 weeks a year.
Q. Do I need my own transport?
Volunteers provide their own transport to and from the farm, at their own expense. We ask that the farmer provides volunteers with a tank of fuel on departure. Volunteers are encouraged to research the unique aspects of travelling in remote Australia. Volunteers need their own suitable transport to make their way to and from the location of the placement. Volunteers should consider the type of vehicle to be used, the distance and road surface over which they may be travelling, as well as higher fuel prices in some rural and remote regions. Volunteers are responsible for registering, insuring and maintaining their vehicle(s) to a roadworthy standard. Volunteers are expected to have the appropriate licence for any vehicle they drive. It is recommended that volunteers hold a manual drivers licence.
Before going on placement, volunteers are to read and understand the Placement Health & Safety Checklist, which provides some guidance on what to check before travelling in remote areas.
Q. Do I require a 4 wheel drive or caravan to do a placement?
Road conditions and the type of vehicle needed to reach each farm vary and need to be checked with Outback Links and the farmer beforehand.
Q. Why do I need to complete a Police Check and Working with Children Check?
These checks are needed to for risk management for volunteer insurance, for funding requirements and for the safety of the families and individuals in remote Australia, given that Outback Links volunteers work unsupervised and in many cases with disadvantaged people.
Q. Is there an age limit for volunteers?
Volunteers need to be aged between 18 and 85 years to be covered by our volunteer insurance and for Working with Children requirements.
Q. Do I need to bring my own food?
The farmer usually provides food for the volunteers. However if you have special dietary requirements or allergies you will need to bring your own food as it may not be available in remote areas.
Q. Am I covered by insurance?
As a volunteer, in the course of volunteer activities for Frontier Services, you are covered for personal injury under the Uniting Church’s Personal Accident Insurance Policies (Voluntary Workers Accident Cover). Volunteers are also protected by the Uniting Church’s Public Liability insurance cover. Volunteers are also protected for driving and travelling for personal injury under the Uniting Church’s Corporate Travel Insurance Cover.
However, please take note that Third Party and Property Damage claims must be covered under the volunteers’ own Comprehensive Motor Vehicle insurance policies. Please note that all volunteers should firstly obtain reimbursement of medical expenses from Medicare. These will not be covered by the policies. Volunteers are covered by insurance from the age of 18 until the age of 85.
Q. Do I need to provide my own accommodation?
Accommodation varies from farm to farm. It can range from being very basic, such as shearer’s quarters without the comforts of air conditioning, to a room within the farmer’s home. Some volunteers bring their own caravan, however this needs to be checked with the farmer beforehand.
Q. I do not have farm experience, can I still volunteer?
Yes – you do not need farm experience to volunteer. We all have different skills and we will be able to find a suitable placement for you.
Q. Do I need a certain level of fitness?
Volunteers need to be physically fit, as well as mentally fit, to work in isolated, often challenging conditions with families who are under a lot of stress. However, not all work is physical. There are jobs suitable for most people.
Q. Can we bring our children along to volunteer?
No, it not possible for children to accompany a volunteer on a placement with Outback Links. This is due to insurance and Working with Children Check requirements. Volunteers need to be minimum age 18 years.
Q. Can I bring my pets along?
It is usually not possible for volunteers to bring their pets with them to a placement. Exceptions to this need to be negotiated and approved before your placement.
Q. What will I need to bring on my placement?
A list is provided to volunteers before they go on placement with some suggestions about what to bring.
Q. Do I receive training before I go?
Outback Links volunteers hold a wide range of skills and knowledge. Outback Links is developing training to assist volunteers to gain the skills they need and build on their current knowledge.
Q. What support do I provide on the farm?
There are a variety of different jobs that you can do on a farm. Volunteers help with the day-to-day work on remote properties around Australia when families need an extra pair of hands. Volunteer jobs can include helping around the house, gardening, cooking, school tutoring, feeding the animals, and other ad hoc jobs around the house and farm. Volunteers can also help the farmer with general maintenance, fixing tractors, small plumbing jobs, fixing fences, stock work or even business admin or book keeping.
As well as practical help, volunteers provide a ‘listening ear’ for farmers who are often isolated. Volunteers don’t try to provide the answers but give people an opportunity to talk and come up with their own answers. Volunteers are aware of opportunities to listen, but also know that each person is different and not everyone has the same desire to talk or discuss personal issues.
Q. How do you choose farmers/eligibility for the program?
Eligibility is on a case-by-case basis. However, we use the following criteria to assess whether a farmer is eligible for assistance:
Assisting with care of the aged or sickness
Recent loss of partner/family member (within the last 12 months)
Birth of a new child
Disaster recovery e.g. after drought, floods or fires
Peak season relief e.g. harvest or muster
The work cannot be done by private contractors/other agencies in a paid capacity, or the family or individual are not in a position to pay for the service or are not able to find contractors willing to travel to their property
No local volunteers are available
Q. How much volunteer support can a farmer receive?
A family or individual can receive up to four weeks’ volunteer assistance each year with each placement usually no more than two weeks at a time. This is to be fair to farmers across the Outback Links community, however can be changed according to need.