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       Preparing

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      Volunteers

Carnarvon

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VISE Newsletters

For news about the activities of VISE volunteers, see our newsletter;

Outback Volunteer Chronicle

 

Preparing

 

The families that require assistance will have varied situations. On sheep stations, cattle runs or grain producing properties you may be personally involved with the property owner, the manager or the family of one of the employees be they station hands, cooks or stockmen. Many of these small properties are marginally viable and so you cannot expect luxurious living conditions. Some stations are larger than others, with a number of employees, while some are actually small communities in their own right. Mining concerns can be privately owned, or operated by companies with conditions as varied as pastoral properties.

Josh

 

 

 

Josh Hopkinson of Wandagee Station at work on maths.

 

 

 

Aboriginal settlements and mission stations are usually reasonably sized communities. Where there is no visitor accommodation VISE is unable to help no matter how keen it is to do so unless the volunteer has a caravan or motor home.

You will find people in the outback as varied as people everywhere. Keep in mind, however, that most people find it difficult to ask for help so you will need to exercise tact and to take a careful non-judgmental approach. The living conditions are varied. They could be separate accommodation in a cottage or caravan, a room in the staff quarters, or a room in the house with the family. We do not encourage the latter if the house is small. The accommodation may or may not be air-conditioned. The Volunteer may be given the facilities to cook for themselves or may eat with the family. Both the Volunteer and the family need to respect one another's privacy.

Outback Australia is often called the last frontier. While this may sound very romantic — and frequently is — the reality is that it can be a harsh place to live. Temperatures range from -peak-hour-the-birdsville-t

10 degrees C. to + 50 degrees C. Few people realise just how cold the nights can be. The daytime can be debilitating. This is the reason VISE attempts to send its Volunteers to properties when the weather is most pleasant.

Isolation is a major factor in outback areas. Whilst locals generally consider that modern technology is fast overcoming this problem, newcomers may find it difficult to cope with. Distance from the nearest town is not necessarily the only indicator of isolation. Each individual situation you find yourself in can indicate to you personally just what constitutes isolation in the bush.

We are not trying to make this scheme sound too restrictive, or like a horror story. Most people who live in the outback enjoy the lifestyle. On the whole, outback people are great, from the real battlers to the well off. Children tend to be more self-reliant.

Look on your placement as an adventure. You will see aspects of outback life that no normal tourist will have the privilege of experiencing.

When you are at home pondering what your adventure holds, it is easy to believe it will work in a certain way, but this may not be so. Most families you go to will be wonderful, but some placements are difficult due to family problems. But that is why VISE exists. Remember you are also a stranger to the family and they may be quite nervous about how you will fit in. Do not change the family routine either in the house or the classroom without discussion. You are there for only a short time. They have to continue life after you leave. The family may be so bogged down with their personal problems they may have huge expectations of their Tutor or Angel. It is a great adventure, a rich and rewarding experience.