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Barcaldine Calls For Grey Nomad Volunteers

How many grey nomads visit Barcaldine each year?
Somewhere between 15 000 and 22 000 tourists visit Barcaldine each year, the majority of whom are ‘Grey Nomads’. We hope to increase the numbers of Grey Nomads visiting our community with Volunteer projects set up in rural communities across Western Qld in the future.

Why and when was the program established?
After research undertaken by Professor Jenny Onyx, University of Technology Sydney Associate Professor Rosemary Leonard, University of Western Sydney in cooperation with Volunteering Australia in 2006, a report document
(“New partnerships: Promoting Development in outback towns through voluntary programs for Grey Nomads”) was produced which led to the formation of the Barcaldine Grey Nomad Action group (GNAG) in 2007.

(A full copy of the report can be viewed at) http://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/files/X5U6MTQ1OX/Barcaldine%20Report.pdf Due to the interest generated within the local community and nationally, the Barcaldine Shire Council (now the Barcaldine Regional Council after amalgamation) made application for funding of the project.

The funding application was applied for and generously funded through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Recreation through the Queensland Governments ‘ Blueprint for the Bush’ initiative. The funding allowed the Council to employ myself as the Coordinator and also provide funds to develop the project. At the completion of my 12 month contract a valuable ‘roadmap’ for other communities to adopt in their pursuit of engaging Grey Nomads would have been developed.

Is it all voluntary work? (ie: no paid work)
Except for my position as the project coordinator, all work done on projects is on a volunteer basis. As part of the projects guidelines, work that is done is not to jeopardize any locally paid positions.

What type of projects are the grey nomads involved in?
In 2007, prior to the project being funded, the Barcaldine Grey Nomad Action Group initiated a number of projects and activities of which Grey Nomads volunteers were involved.

Barcaldine sits alongside Lagoon Creek. As one of the projects undertaken last year Grey Nomad Volunteers helped develop a nature walk along Lagoon Creek which gives tourist and locals easy access via a cement pathway to the creek and its large native bird population around 200 birds species have been identified, eight of which have rare or vulnerable status. It is anticipated that future developments at the Lagoon Creek Project will include extending the walking paths as well as setting up bird hides to enable bird watchers to enjoy their hobby.

A number of Grey Nomad Volunteers handymen provided valuable repairs and renovations to the Australian Workers Heritage Centre exhibits.

Other activities included a retired judge visiting our local school to talk to students about the legal process, and even a visually impaired visitor with a guide-dog inform about the do’s and don’ts of greeting a blind person and their dog.

As you can imagine the opportunities for Grey Nomad Volunteers to get involved in local community work are endless when you take into consideration the amount of diverse skills and life experience our Grey Nomad visitors possess.

Are there particular skills needed? (eg: do you need a trade or profession)?
As the Grey Nomad project develops the Grey Nomad Action Group (GNAG) will be calling on local community groups to come forward with any projects they require assistance with, at which point the GNAG will look at matching up skills of the Grey Nomad Volunteers with the community projects.

How long do the projects take?
It is anticipated the projects will run for differing lengths of time, some may well develop over a couple of years (in the case of the Lagoon Creek) others may be only run for a day or two, whichever is the case it is hoped that Grey Nomads Volunteers will return each year to have input into their pet Barcaldine project.

Do people need to stay a certain time, or is the program flexible?
From a local view point we would hope that visitors would stay for the whole tourist season, but to be realistic, we are only too happy to accept assistance from our Grey Nomad visitors for the time they are prepared to commit.

How is the program administered?
The program is administered by the Barcaldine Regional Council, Barcaldine office.

What do you see as the benefits for grey nomads?
From surveys done, it has been established that Grey Nomad Volunteers motivations for volunteering are: the opportunity to meet with locals, learning about the local area, using and sharing their skills to help the local community and its surrounds.

Are there any particular things people need to know about becoming involved?
As part of the project, a full Volunteer Orientation Manual will be produced to cover all volunteer projects, with insurance cover provided by the Barcaldine Regional Council who will oversee all projects. In Queensland any person working with children is required to hold a ‘Blue Card’.

Who should people contact if they are interested in being part of the Grey Nomad Project?
Interested Volunteers can get involved by contacting myself via email on Douglas_Stewart@barcaldinerc.qld.gov.au or phone me on (07 46515600) or they can contact the Barcaldine Tourist Information Centre when they come to town and they will direct those interested to the council office or myself.

For immediate release 4th March 2009 For more information: Project Coordinator: Douglas Stewart

The State Government has shown its support and commitment of the Barcaldine Grey Nomad Volunteer Project by recently approving a further two years of funding for the pilot project.

Future funding will allow the project to extend into the recently amalgamated Shires of Aramac, Barcaldine and Jericho which now make up the Barcaldine Regional Council.

The funding is provided through the Governments Blue Print for the Bush Our Place Our Future initiative.

The project, set up to take advantage of the thousands of tourists passing through Barcaldine and region during the tourist season, encourages travellers to volunteer to help out with local community projects.

The Barcaldine Regional Council communities have shown their full support for the project by forming a Grey Nomad Action Group to coordinate the projects activities.

The Group sources projects from local not-for-profit community groups and organisations and matches their needs with the skills and experience offered by the travelling volunteers.

Volunteers are encouraged to get involved in the local community and will be welcomed to community activities to show the region’s appreciation of their efforts.