AHVISE Podcast Episode 02: Sonia Talks To Us About Her Remote Kids Classroom & AHVISE

AHVISE Podcast Episode 02: Sonia Talks To Us About Her Remote Kids Classroom & AHVISE

Transcript Below:

Hi everyone, it’s Kate here. Thanks for tuning in today to the AHVISE podcast. In today’s podcast, we’re going to talk to Sonia. Sonia is registered with AHVISE as a family. And as such, she has a volunteer tutors come out to their home for six weeks, every year. The same volunteers as it turns out, and she will tell that story in this podcast and her involvement in the ICPA and her history with AHVISE. So I hope you enjoy this podcast.

KATE: Today, we’re going to talk to Sonia about how she’s going with her family there and how she’s using AHVISE and it’s really exciting. So I’m going to say hi to Sonia and thank you for joining me today. So hi! Sonia.

SONIA: Good morning, Kate, how are you going?

KATE: Excellent, excellent. And thank you for talking to me. I know it was a little bit hard kind of syncing together because we’ve both got busy exciting lives. However, here we are. So I just really want to start with just getting the sort of bearings on you and your family. So tell us a little bit about your family and your kids and you know if you have a farm there or what you do for income and so on?

SONIA: Yes, Okay. So my husband and he is a part of a family business and we live at Range View Station which is about 50kms south of a little town called Ravenswood with which is in North Queensland. The family moved here in 1982 from Proserpine they purchased Range View as a new venture because previously they were employees of local braziers in the Proserpin district and then sorted it was time to live and work for themselves so that’s what brought them to Ravenswood.

KATE: Wow okay, so how many kids have you got?

SONIA: We have four children which are all girls believe it or not. So, two of them are actually married living in Townsville and we’ve still got two at home. Montana’s in Year 12 and Bonnie is studying Year 9, and they’re both enrolled with Charters Towers Distance Education and obviously each girl has to have their own school room because distractions would be totally unbearable. So yeah that’s long and short of them.

KATE: Are they both in primary school or one in primary and one in secondary or both secondary?

SONIA: Both secondary. So Montana Year 12 and Bonnie is in Year 9 and so both are in secondary. Well Montana is actually in her last year. So look, it’s a great education just like Distance Ed.

KATE: Yeah, I’m just wondering how that actually routine works for the classroom for each child.

SONIA: So at the end of every term we, unlike what they used to do. So years ago they just had papers delivered to, with the mailman but nowadays we’re very fortunate that we do get the papers as well as we have access to online audios, face to face with teachers every day on a regular basis. So, you know while we’re still a bit isolated in the in the school room we’ve still got that advantage that they can deliver the lessons directly to the students. Then yeah, obviously as work is completed each week which we have to do, we send it gets sent into them either by email or if its massive files we’ve got to put in the post. At the moment they’ve just developed what has been up for a while but we we’ve come on board with using One Drive.

So the girls can actually drop their assessments and stuff straight into that so we don’t have to worry about trying to email big files and stuff like that. Look that’s a positive for the distance API for this year.

And, yeah look they can finish as early as they want, it’s up to the students. If they can get in and plug away and get their school work completed for the day. Well, you know the rest of the day is to themselves but unfortunately they have to go out and do chores and help out their mother in mustering or whatever but they can work around that.

KATE: So they help out with mustering, and as a farmer you are right? So they do I guess all sorts of farming stuff as well. Do they enjoy that like do you think they’re loving their childhood is that it?

SONIA: Yeah, they love it. Well, they’ve had to love it because we’ve had weeks here where we have been very busy. Mustering cows and pulling wieners and stuff off and the girls have worked at night time doing their school work so they’re free to give us a hand the next day. Because wages are pretty expensive nowadays. So you just have to cut a bit of costs where you can and the girls are very capable young girls. So, they’re really enjoying it. And they always say ‘you know mum when are we going cow mustering next or when do you need help?’. So, yeah they’re keen, they’re very keen which is a great thing and you find most rural kids are like that.

[Ad Break]

You can visit our website at www.ahvise.org.au.

Kate: So your two older children, the two older girls, they were from also a classroom run by you and they’ve gone on to boarding school didn’t you say?

Sonia: No, they’re both married now. So we’ve got a little school about 50 kilometers from us called Ravenswood school. So, they did primary school there and both of them went to boarding school in Charters Towers. Obviously they’ve finished school now and look when it comes down to it. There’s no way I could have coped with four kids in the school room here with life as well and a lot of families do that but it just the time wasn’t right so they were fortunate to be able to go away to boarding school and they finished and got great jobs in Townsville. So they’re married and I presume there’s going to be grandchildren on the away in the not too distant future but I don’t know whether I’m ready for that.

KATE: Well, they can come in your classroom you’re all ready to go. So tell me about AHVISE so you have a tutor come out so that would work in sort of sync with your Charters Towers Distance Education tutoring as well they all sort of all three would work together the kids, the school and the volunteer is that right?

SONIA: That’s right. Yeah, so we’ve had a VISE couple since 2015 we’ve had the same couple well obviously because VISE is now AHVISE. So we’ve had Jan & Peter Torrens from Melbourne who are experienced mainly in Secondary schooling so it just, the match fitted.


You know, they were specialized in that secondary field because there’s not everyone – every teacher is capable of that but probably capable but not specialized in that. So fortunately we’ve had them for the last four years you know in a row which has been fantastic and they’ve really become a part of our family.


The girls love them and look, the girls education has improved you know, since they’ve started to come up to us because you know early intervention is a very important thing. So, from the age of I think Bonnie was in Year 4 when Jan and Peter started coming.

So, they’re pretty important years to get them pointed in the right direction and you know look, we still have a lot more contact with Jan and Peter. I go down every year and spend a week or so with Jan and we we’ve just been down there and we’ve been to the Australian Open and you know done some stuff together. So, yeah they’re very much part of our family and they can see you know, I’m not always on call 24/7 in the school room when Jans here. Because, she you know, she can just take the pressure off well it’s normally about six weeks so it’s been wonderful having them.

KATE: Yeah, I was going to say how long they come for about six weeks a year is that right?

SONIA: Yeah, we’re getting six weeks a year is the way it’s always been and they always work it into their holidays or we were fortunate last year Jan and Peter decided that we’re going to Western Australia for their trip. Their getaway for the year and they went home to Melbourne by North Queensland. So they pretty much went right around Australia and half of it was to say to have a holiday and the other half was just to be here with us for six weeks which you know, you don’t hear very often  that’s a mighty effort for you know, people that are in their 70s.

KATE: So they’re definitely like part of your family, I mean in your own mind because they’re coming back every year. It’s almost like an Aunty and Uncle or you know nan and pop, it’s amazing.


SONIA: Absolutely, absolutely. And like I said they’re just they’re just amazing people. I’m always talking them on the phone or email or Skype and yeah they’re just wonderful people. Actually our eldest daughter got married here at home in August and Jan and Peter we’re here and Jan was one of the biggest awarded catering for it as well. So you know, yeah she was fantastic you know it goes above and beyond school room.

KATE: Yeah, where do they stay? Do they have their own room their own little quarters? Because sometimes they have these dongas and things like how do you do that how do you manage that?

SONIA: Jan and Peter have got their own caravan, a pretty big one at that. Very comfortable I might say. Yeah, so they obviously go and do their yearly trip somewhere  and then they just bring the van here and we hook them up and they fully pretty much self-sufficient. You’ve got a bathroom, TV and all that sort of stuff. Although so they have breakfast in the caravan, and then they have all meals with us. So morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner we all sit down as a family and have those meals together. Because, you know I think it’s really important to be able to bond with those people. You know, people like that and they love it. You know they just love it.

KATE: So that’s that’s pretty amazing. I know that sometimes. I mean, because I’m thinking coming from WA with the caravan. Is that what you’re saying? They came from WA with the caravan.

SONIA: They did.

KATE: Oh, my goodness.

SONIA: So that’s dedication.

KATE: Yeah. That’s like, that’s really amazing. So if you were to talk to potential volunteers for AHVISE. What advice would you give to them?

SONIA: That’s a tricky one, I don’t know. You just need to really form great relationships with your families that you go to, you know, like, obviously not everyone’s going to go=el. There’s going to be issues for that because you know we’re all different people but I think becoming as involved with the family as you possibly can it’s probably a bigger advantage than not.

Although, there are some families that don’t particularly want that you know okay you’re here to do school so you know we want our space and that works that I’m not saying it doesn’t. Just in my circumstance or I’m a bit different I suppose anyone that comes to stay with us it’s one in all in. That’s the way the whole family’s been over the generations you know that we’re just very loving, caring people and we just love company.

KATE: What about families, so families like yourselves what type of things would you suggest to them if they were considering AHVISE?

SONIA: Be open-minded and to just give it a go because they’ve always –  the majority of what I’ve heard is that the’ve got the kids best interest at heart. I’ve got a actually go sister in law that has been enrolled with AHVISE as well and she’s had wonderful, wonderful tutors as well. Obviously each year has been different but just form bonds and I think that’s the biggest thing is most people tend to form a bond with their VISE couple which is amazing.

KATE: That’s great you know I really appreciate you saying all this and the funny thing is I reckon people will listen to this, especially families and they’ll say I want a tutor like hers that will travel from WA just for me every year you know like that’s pretty amazing.

KATE: I think you know like being a home tutor is a pretty, pretty long year with you know with school. Especially when you’ve got outside work and everything that requires you know [inaudible] and you know where do the list of duties actually end for a mother like myself. So to have that person to come in, and have the time to sit down and do all that extension stuff with the kids you actually don’t get to do. Especially, if you’ve got numerous kids in the school room. Look, I think that’s a great thing and especially I’m not quite confident with some of the some of the terminologies and stuff of schooling of this particular generation. So you know the way I did long division was totally different the way they do it now. So having that person and you know what long and short of it that’s what a teacher does they teach. It’s different and you gotta let the professionals do their bit because you know, it’s only going to help.

KATE: Yeah, it’s going to fill those gaps where maybe you did have a different approach.

SONIA: The biggest thing I think is the social interaction for the kids. So, you know, while there are lots of challenges, most challenges we think of them as everyday life and deal with the situations accordingly. I’m not sure that actual word appears in my mind often otherwise, you know what the brain will do so much over processing and but overcoming the kids social side is a bit of a tricky one. You know, like, we can just pop in the car and go to netball twice a week because logistically it’s just not going to work.


So we try to do as much as we possibly can, you know, going to school camps and [inaudible] and sports camps and whatever is available to us as Distance Ed family. We also have great work of friends that we try to catch up with on a regular basis, whether we get away or you know, they come to us and they do girls do have social media. So you know what, they can communicate pretty much more on a regular basis than the other. Yeah, well, we do put caps on that. You know, it was getting a little bit out of hand I think social media is a wonderful thing but it can definitely be a torture.

KATE: It can be good and bad. Yeah,

SONIA: Absolutely, absolutely. It can be very distracting for too much of the time if you don’t keep an eye on it. So, you know, just wanted to do a little thing on challenges.

KATE: When you say challenges do you mean from the perspective of the mom or the kids? Are you saying both?



SONIA: I’m saying in general okay. For the kids, for the mum, for the business. You know, like you just like for example [inaudible] and stuff like that that we’ve just been combing through it is what it is and fortunately we’ve come through not too bad where as others haven’t. We just find that we can’t put too much – over thinking it. Because it just kind of lead to so many issues, mental health all that sort of stuff so it’s a tough one. So you just know, you just gotta just keep going and a positive attitude is the biggest thing.

KATE: So what you’re really saying is that we know that we know you guys go through that and just to keep going just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You reach out to organizations like AHVISE or whoever get all the help you can get that’s really what I think you’re trying to say. I get it now, yeah.

 SONIA: That’s you know in a nutshell and you know like there’s so many people out there that are not aware of AHVISE. They’re not aware of it and I look I think it’s very important to get that word out. Look, I’m heavily involved in ICPA which is Isolated Children’s Parents Association and we are also committed to getting the word out on this great thing. I think yeah, t’s amazing.

KATE: Do they have a website, the  ICPA?

SONIA: Yeah, we do. There’s some so it’s a lot lobby body that we go to government and lots of different organizations you know to help with rural education. That saga that just happened over in the west where they’re going to close down school of the Airs. It was ICPA that actually had a big influence on that not happening. It’s another great organization.

KATE: Yeah, that’s amazing. Well look, I’m glad you mentioned it and I’m glad you mentioned all those things too and obviously what you’re working with ICPA and people can get involved with that too if they feel they need support. You know there is, you know you’re not totally alone and there’s all sorts of ways you can reach out and I know Aussie Helpers have the Virtual Psychologist so that farmers can use their text on their phone to get support. Because you know, sometimes they don’t want to ring up or whatever so yeah I mean, there’s all sorts of things out there it’s just a matter of finding the motivation or inspiration to continue which obviously for you would be your kids.

SONIA: Yeah, that’s right.

[AD Break]

You can visit our website at www.ahvise.org.au

KATE: Look I really appreciate you sharing that with us today and I think we should leave it there because we have gone over 20 minutes even though I promised we wouldn’t.

SONIA: Lovely to chat. Thank you.

KATE: Yes, it was lovely chat and thank you so much for talking to me and I’m glad we got through it even though my phone rang while we were [talking] anyway. It never rings Sonia. But now that I’m on a call to you anyway.

SONIA: It’s a bit like Kate, you know when kids are quiet and as soon as you pick up the telephone, you can guarantee that they’re going to just start with the ‘mum, mum, mum, mum, mum’

KATE: And that’s is so true! Exactly, I agree 100% with that. I was saying that the other day. Alright, well look, I’m going to let you go so I’m gonna hang up now but I really appreciate your time. All right thank you. Talk to you soon.


If you’re a farmer and you’re struggling, please know there is support available. Feel free to contact Aussie Helpers Virtual Psychologists and know that you are not alone.

Text0488  807 266
1300 665 234

For more information visit -> https://aussiehelpers.org.au/aussie-helpers-virtual-psychologist-for-drought-affected-farmers/ 


AHVISE Podcast Ep 01: How AHVISE Helps Aussie Kids Education In Rural & Remote Areas


Transcript below: 

KATE: Hi everyone, this is Kate and this is our first podcast show for AHVISE, and today Lyn French and I are going to have a very brief chat about AHVISE. What we do in AHVISE, how we help families around Australia and remote and rural areas and how the volunteers get involved. So I hope you enjoy listening to us, I guess just chat really and hopefully get a feel for what we’re about and why we do what we do. Thanks for listening.

KATE: Hi everyone, it’s Kate here and I’m with Lyn today. Lyn French. How are you going Lyn?

LYNN FRENCH: I am very good thank you. How’s your day?

KATE: My day is fantastic because in Melbourne, it’s nice and hot weather, which I know you Queenslanders have the benefit of all the time, as opposed to us poor Melbanites. But anyway, what have you been doing today? You’ve been on the farm or?

LYNN FRENCH: Today, I have been extremely busy pumping water for cows and as soon as it gets too hot I venture inside and do my paperwork and try and catch up with AHVISE stuff.

KATE: So how many cows you got there?

LYN FRENCH: Because of the drought over the last seven years we’ve destocked, destocked, destocked. So we’re only running about two and a half thousand at the moment.

KATE: Oh, that sounds like a lot to me though. So it wasn’t used to be a lot more than that, I guess?

LYN FRENCH:  Yeah, roughly round about four. But, yeah we like to sort of be a bit conservative so.

KATE: Right, right. Makes it easier to keep them going, I guess if there’s less of them. So, let’s talk about AHVISE just for a moment because I know that you came to Brian and that was great about AHVISE and really you came from the point of view of working with VISE is that right? And then you sort of said, look there’s an opportunity here to run this program in a bigger way and your vision for that. So, tell me a bit about that journey coming from VISE to AHVISE.

LYN FRENCH: So yeah, VISE started roughly 29 years ago. My connection with it as a mum on a Cattle Station having to teach the kids I had no idea, limited education and I was struggling like many other moms out there.

KATE: Right

LYN FRENCH: So I got involved with VISE I become a recipient and then become a coordinator and then became on admin. Which I sat on admin for 28 years before it closed down. I approached him about taking over, taking VISE over when it was discussed about closing it. But that wasn’t an option.

So when they closed it I’ve just thought there was so many families out there that really, really needing help with education. There’s a lot of mums out there that haven’t had a great deal of education, and also mum ring out, helping Dad on station and all the other jobs that they do. So I said about making a plan of starting a new organization. I knew that I needed funding and yeah, you just can’t (inaudible). So I approached Brian Egan from Aussie-Helpers, and my first sentence, Brian said, yeah how much money do you need? And yeah it’s sort of been a roller coaster ride. It’s just gone from strength to strength. So just extremely happy and excited for my family.

KATE: I do get excited because we’re such an awesome team, aren’t we? But it wasn’t like that at first, at first we were kind of finding our feet, weren’t we? And we we’re kind of trying to work out what had to happen and where and who and we kind of went through a transition, but I’m really happy with where we’re at now. Would you agree, is that?

LYN FRENCH: I certainly do agree. I felt a little bit of frustration because when I first started. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen but taking little bits and pieces of VISE and creating a new one. But I suppose I sort of thought a lot of people thought like we do in the bush, and but here we’ve overcome that. I’m just excited that everyone on the chain is just so great, pulling together and like I said it’s just gone strength to strength, it’s it’s amazing.

KATE: Yeah, we get along well so when we brought along the VA’s I was really picky about who they were because I said unless they really nice people. I don’t even want them in the organization, because there’s nothing worse than working with someone who doesn’t have the, I don’t know, the good heart, good personality you know and so…

Kate: [Ad Break] you can visit our website at www.ahvise.org.au.

I get that it’s for families on farms, would you say it’s just any family on a remote property? Or it has to be a farm? I mean, how did they deal with that on VISE? Was it just anything goes or are there kind of restrictions or?

LYN FRENCH: Um, there was certainly restrictions when VISE was going but I don’t really want to go there. We’re a whole new concept, AHVISE. We cater for any rural and [remote] children. It doesn’t mean whether they’re on a farm, a deserted island, aboriginal community, it doesn’t matter where they are in rural or remote Australia. If we’ve got someone to help, we’ll send them there.

KATE: Okay. And because they don’t have to go there now do they. We’ve set it up now that they can do it online, isn’t there? Like on Skype or whatever.

LYN FRENCH: As long as it’s rural and remote.

KATE: Okay. So and I think the other thing is that, I think this is the pertinent point, is that if AHVISE are involved, we do all the background checks. We make sure there’s insurance on board or whatever so because I know at one stage there was some volunteers and families who said ‘Oh we can just work it out ourselves’ and I said ‘Well, if you do that then there’s no travel refund, there’s no insurance there’s no – you know, you just do it on your own. That’s fine. But the whole point of having AHVISE is that we can do those background checks properly, we can help you if there’s issues. You know we can actually be far more involved and help, you know get the right person for the right match and would you agree? Is that? That’s the main benefit isn’t it?

LYN FRENCH: Yes, so before a tutor goes to a family, they have a  blue card check up to date and they sit underneath our Aussie Helpers umbrella for insurance. The families don’t have to pay anything due to the considerable amount of donations that we received last year. So we’re able to pass that on to families. But the tutors are able to put into a claim with their receipts for fuel subsidy as well.

KATE: Yeah, and we’ve built the website really as the hub. So this is where they go to register, whether you’re a family or whether you’re a volunteer. This is where you submit your application. If you’re a volunteer, this is where you submit your ad for the placement if you’re a family. It’s all around that website and our VA’s and Lynn and myself we all work from that website that’s the hub and it’s kind of like an online business. But it’s not a business but anyway, it’s got a lot of dimensions to it certainly, and I know Nadege runs the social media page and so when it comes to donations, there’s two ways I think we get money and to support the program. One is where we go after corporate sponsorship, which is always a great way to go because it tends to be a larger amount for a less of a reach. You know, you can write a letter to say for instance, I don’t know, a book company, a Queensland based book company and you can say you know, if you donate 5000, we’ll put you on our webpage and you can kind of do it like sponsorship almost. But then of course there’s the mass market which is just people who just genuinely want to you know, send $5, $10, $20 towards helping out. Now, those people can just go to our website and make a donation direct can’t they?

LYN FRENCH: They can and, everything is tax deductible of course

KATE: Right

LYN FRENCH: But I think – if we can really stress that point you know that the donation that (that) anybody, whether it’s a company or a single person or big corporate that their donation is helping educate our youth of the agricultural industry and without our rural youth/s, they are the future of our food security. So, it’s doing (a) great job in educating our, helping educate our young people who deserve (an) equal education the same as our city cousins.

KATE: Absolutely and to be fair I have worked with Aussie Helpers for a few years now and a lot of the time when people – when I liaise with them through donations, setting up and things like that they’ll say to me, ‘I just want to make sure I’m helping a family directly’. So, the thing with AHVISE is if you put it into that fund then that goes to that program specifically for helping education and the running costs of it.

So the reality is that it is a really direct way to say that’s a difference I want to make and you can do it. But, you know sometimes you don’t get your charity and you might put in $100 and you don’t really know where it’s going or what difference it’s going to make or what impact. So this is that choice that people can make you know and I know that Aussie have got their other program, the virtual psychologist pro- is the same thing. If you’re really passionate about mental health issues, you would probably want to donate to that one, right? So, you know.

Lyn French: That’s right

Kate:  Yeah, exactly. So that’s the exciting thing about it too. So, because Aussie keep the records very separate, so that they know what’s going on where. So that’s good. I’m glad you brought that up. I know that this year, we’re going to go after some corporate funds, you know, I guess at the end the day if it helps us attract more volunteers and it helps us you know, cover their costs that’s awesome. And I think that now that we’ve waived the fee for the families which is just amazing I’m so happy. So I – that’s where the donations go and that’s the main thing that people can understand, I guess you got anything to add to that or?

LYN FRENCH: I don’t think so, I just you know if anybody’s listening to this, please go and have a look at our website www.ahvise.org.au, and if you would like to be helping rural and remote kids education, please nominate as a volunteer, please you will be greatly appreciated.

KATE: Look, and you know what we will do another podcast not right now but on the ideal volunteer and a few of their stories and we’ll also do another one on families and who we’ve made an impact on with AHVISE and what our goals are there. So, but I really just wanted to cover in this quick podcast who we are, what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and I think we’ve covered that because I’ve talked about how we revolve around the website, how everyone comes there to register or if you want to be part of it and you don’t want to volunteer, you can still donate and you can still spread the word about what we’re doing. So if you’ve got a social media account share our link, you know just to get the word out there so we said what – whose AHVISE and you’ve really covered why we’re doing it and that’s to help rural. I love that you said we do anyone, everywhere because I didn’t know that I thought it was just farming, so that’s exciting because that means more.

LYN FRENCH: Well, we’ve got last year and this year, we’ve got tutors going to Vanderlin Island.

KATE: Okay.

LYN FRENCH: Vanderlin Island, it’s out – off in the territory and its indigenous community.

KATE: Right

LYN FRENCH: We’ve been helping there ever since we started. Yeah,  look it’s any rural and remote kids educational needs we’re there to help.

KATE: Right, right.

LYN FRENCH: And – well people say you know what’s rural and remote? Well you know, if somebody’s just pulled their kid out of school because they felt like it, we don’t really sort of help that situation we’re, we’re about the rural and remote.

KATE: Okay, so let me give you a question say would you consider Ayers Rock, rural and remote or would you call that a town? So that’s where I’m trying to define you know?

LYN FRENCH: Where? but you know Ayers Rock if it’s in the town, no I don’t –

KATE: Okay.

LYN FRENCH: – class that, so in this community out of Ayers Rock, like you know 200km’s, yes I do plus that.

KATE: And so is that because they can’t get to a school? So is that basically because they can’t get to a school you consider that rural and remote? Yeah.

LYN FRENCH: Yeah, so our kids that we help they’re geographically isolated and there’s no other choice but to educate at home.

KATE: Okay.

[Ad Break] You can visit our website at www.ahvise.org.au

KATE: That’s what we’re doing, we’ve talked about that we help them tutor. We’ll talk about that in another podcast.

LYN FRENCH: Excellent, righto.

KATE: Okay, thanks love. Bye now.

KATE: Okay, and that was Lynn French from AHVISE and I’m Kate and we’re signing off. We look forward to seeing you on the next podcast, next story and whenever we’re doing our thing. Okay, bye now.

What’s Happening At AHVISE In February

Dear Valued AHVISE Community,

We hope you have had a wonderful time of the Christmas and New Year period, we are excited to get back to work at AHVISE. In 2019 we have lots of exciting things planned for both our families and volunteers. Please remember if you are a family and you haven’t yet created a placement we encourage you to do so. We have plenty of volunteers who are eager to get back into volunteering during 2019.

Remember, thanks to Aussie Helpers (our supporters) there are no $500 Family Placement fees for 2019 – Aussie Helpers support the Volunteers for their travel refunds (so families don’t have to do that) plus they fund the running and management of the AHVISE which has massively grown in 2018 from nothing!


  • AHVISE Creative Kids Competition 2.0We are excited to announce that we will be hosting another competition for our AHVISE Kids starting February 1st. This competition we want you to write us a short story, joke or poem about why you love where you live. In your story, we want you to include a colored drawing about what you have written about. We encourage all of you to be super creative and use your imaginations to show us why you love where you live. For more information on how to enter check out our blog post.  
  • New AHVISE Podcast Starting February 1st

    We will have a new podcast show launching on 1 February 2019 jam packed with interesting stories, helpful content and inspiring topics to keep everyone at AHVISE up to date! We will send the details on the new podcast when it has launched! In the meantime, we would love your help! If you know someone, a business representative/organisation) that would be a great fit to come on our podcast show and have a chat with us?? Then we’d love to hear from them (or you!)

    Please email Ann or Nadege at AHVISE the relevant details, and we can take it from there!

    We are looking for:


  • Volunteer stories
  • Family stories
  • Farming stories (good stories and challenges faced)
  • We are particularly interested in how this affects “kids” and their side of the perspective (for study purposes and just life in general)
  • Farm/remote property suppliers, service providers and businesses (relevant to kids)

Don’t forget to like our official AHVISE Facebook page and we will see you next week for more updates!




How To Enter: AHVISE Kids Creative Competition February 2019

Dear Valued AHVISE Community,

We are excited to announce that we will be hosting another competition for our AHVISE Kids starting February 1st. This competition we want you to write us a short story, joke or poem about why you love where you live. In your story, we want you to include a colored drawing about what you have written about. We encourage all of you to be super creative and use your imaginations to show us why you love where you live. Please make sure you include your name, age and state in the email.

How to enter:

  • Submit a story, joke or poem with a colored drawing/photograph attached about why you love where you live (submit up to 5 times)
  • Send it to info@ahvise.org.au (Subject: *NAME* AHVISE Competition Submission *DATE*) or via our AHVISE Facebook Page


  • You must be a registered AHVISE Family for your child’s submission to count.
  • Make sure you ‘LIKE’ the official AHVISE Facebook page
  • The drawing or photograph must relate to the story, joke or poem submitted.  

1st Prize:

  • The winner will receive a $50 gift voucher to the store of their choice
  • They will be featured in our AHVISE Calendar 2020 (February)
  • 1 x interview with AHVISE on our upcoming podcast (optional)
  • 1 x featured blog post

2nd & 3rd Prize:

  • Runner up feature on our AHVISE Facebook Page & blog post

We want everyone to get involved in our competitions as it is really motivating for our AHVISE admin team to see this organisation grow together! We will be sharing the submissions on our blog, facebook & Instagram pages and we will credit people in the captions where appropriate. If you prefer to keep your name anonymous we will respect your privacy, please send us an email notifying us ahead of time. The winners will be announced once the competition closes end of February.

Don’t forget to like our official AHVISE Facebook page and we will see you next week for more updates!


AHVISE Experiences: Volunteer Margot

Dear Valued AHVISE Community,

This blog post we are going to share a photo story from one of our wonderful AHVISE Volunteers, Margot. This is her experience on a placement North of Charters Towers, QLD through our program. Enjoy.

Birth of Milkshake calf – This calf was eagerly awaited as the
mother – Mary, had been a poddy calf for the girls a few years earlier. The
tradition in the family is that the name of any calf must start with the
same letter as the mother – hence Mary —- Milkshake (Milkshake was a

Cookies birthday – I had a birthday whilst with the family and the
girls worked for several days before hand on making cards and various
presents. It was a wonderful surprise that morning at breakfast to be
presented with headbands, bracelets, a dreamcatcher made from a horseshoe
and cards. Very thoughtful and caring girls. *( My nick name is Cookie)

Walk with the girls – We went for many walks with the girls after
school and on weekends. They had fantastic imaginations and made up fabulous
stories as we walked. Creepy Gully was one of these special places they had
on the property and in this photo they are in their “kitchen” making “soup”
out of grass/bark/moss/flowers etc.

Cold start to school – The weather did get quite cold for a week
towards the end of June and the girls on this day donned
socks/jacket/dressing gown and obviously Gary was cold as well – note beanie
and jacket. We usually started school outside with a PE session followed by
their spelling/times tables on the decking.

Georgie at the desk – Georgie working on her multi-modal project,
which she received an A for.

Greenvale Campdraft – the mother – Maree was working at the Greenvale Campdraft with 6 other mums. They cooked and served all the meals for 4 days as a fund raiser for the ICPA. The family came as well and Dad drove the truck that delivered the cattle for the Campdraft. So … we went to help out with the meals and enjoyed looking around Greenvale and watching some of the events. It was a crazy 4 days though and we were all REALLY tired when we arrived back home. Great experience and we really admired the commitment of this group of Mums to raise the necessary money for ICPA.

Photo of the cattle – for us these 2 magnificent beasts seem typical of stations in FNQ.

 One of the many walks we did while at Lynden Hills – This dam was just too inviting for the girls to stay out of – the feel of mud between the toes would have been lovely 😊

Love this photo – I would call it “mud boots”.
Obviously, this photo was taken after the previous one – when the girls got out of the dam.

This is Georgie jumping into a small inlet of the dam – just enough water to make a good splash. The 3 girls all tried to make a big splash and this photo just typified the result.

Ravenswood Township – Some weekends we visited local sights and one of
those was the old goldmining township of Ravenswood. We love these quirky
little places and these “models” gave us a laugh.

The Spurdle girls all rode horses regularly and one day Brianna showed
us some of her skills. This was one of them.

This rock was found by Georgie on one of our walks on the weekend on
the family property – to Mt Success. The shape of the rock certainly
encapsulates our feelings of outback Australia and volunteering for isolated

Old cattle yards – Another weekend walk – to the river and looking at
old station ruins. Again this typifies the outback for us, lots of memories
and reminders of boom & bust.

Georgie practising for the long jump event – at home on the
roadway with a board dug into the ground by Gary (Tutor)

Eldest girl Brianna winning the 400M race at the school Athletics.
This was one of a number of events Brianna did well in.

Georgie winning the High Jump event at the school Athletics. Post
story to this photo – Georgie then went on to compete at the regional sports
in Townsville and then another round in Cairns. As she kept winning – she
was selected as part of the Primary School Athletics team that is in
Melbourne as I type this email. She will compete on Monday- 26th Nov –  in
the 10 years high jump. What a story from a girl who has had no formal
training and just practises in the paddock!!

At the end of the Athletics sports the LOTE teachers put on a musical
performance. This was one of the staff members playing a “drum” – an old
tyre covered VERY tightly with clear Packing tape (I think). It made a great
sound too. The things we experience when tutoring – wouldn’t miss it for

Dyvenor Downs Poem by AHVISE Volunteer Sharon

Here is a wonderful poem from our AHVISE Volunteer Sharon from her placement in Dyvenor Downs. This December we will be sharing photos, videos & stories from our AHVISE Volunteers for our competition. We hope you enjoy & thanks Sharon for sharing your experiences with us.

Dynevor Downs

By Sharon Pearson during our VISE placement Oct/Nov 2018

Thargomindah was our destination,

We set out Monday with some hesitation.

Dynevor Downs it said on the map,

What could be hard to find about that.

Head west along the highway it says,

Keep going a long, long, long ways.

Cunnamulla was our overnight stay,

A cosy motel we found on the way.

Next morning we’re out bright and early,

The rest of our trip shouldn’t be too curly.

We arrived at smoko right on the dot,

Greeted with coffee, tea & bickies – the lot.

So into the school room I found my place,

With children all working their lessons to face.

On air was happening the teacher to talk,

No blackboard, bells, rules or chalk.

Just computers, govvie guide and on-air scramble,

The school day time was spent in an amble.

All lessons were over by lunch – a big hooray,

And onto the station with horses to play.

Each day followed calmly in the same vein,

Except Mrs Linda was in quite some pain.

So off to the doctor up Quilpie way,

And over to Roma an overnight to stay.

Mum goes out each day, the ‘woolies’ to find,

They’re up through the mulga – ‘up yonder behind’.

A few today and some more on the morrow,

‘Not all have been gathered,’ she says with sorrow.

Another day out and a few more come clear,

When Saturday comes they’re all there to shear.

They’re all in the pens, the dogs did their job,

The shearers are here to shear the mob.

A buzz round the shed from the shears is heard,

Each shearer with a hand piece is skilfully gird.

By mid-morning they’re done so they tally their score,

Press down the fleeces left on the floor.

Next day is the marking, rams made to wethers,

They missed last year, they’re not light as feathers.

‘Haydo’ lifts sheep including the rams,

Pushing mulga most days, he’s the right-hand man.

Louise does the job, most fellows would do,

She’s adapt at most things, she’s country right through.

One week later we’ve survived all the fuss,

We’ve not been invited to ‘get on the bus’.

“Thank God you are here,” we hear them say,

A little more help in the kitchen today.

Some cooking and cleaning when school is over,

While Mum feeds the weaners but not on clover.

The storm clouds gathered and the air was hot,

Anticipation grew thinking rain was our lot.

The dust rolled in with the wind at speed,

All hands on deck the animals to feed.

The wind races through at alarming pace,

In comes the dust, quick hide your face.

The clouds rolled in quickly, the thunder roared loud,

Then drops or rain from a threatening cloud.

We waited for more but none was in store,

No moisture from dark clouds did eventually pour.

The promise to break this years’ long drought,

Just left all again, the weather to doubt.

I look ‘cross the yard from the workers quarters,

Dan is there guiding his daughters,

On how to break in an untamed horse,

With strength and know-how and patience of course.

Round and round ‘til they face up to you,

Now you can halter and teach trust that’s true.

The V8 is loaded with stock lick to feed,

The cattle way up, we follow the lead.

The bulldust flies high as we make our way,

The water trough lies where the cattle all stay.

The mulga is red from bottom to top,

When will this dry weather turn dry dust to slop?

The boots they wear come up to their knees,

To stop the dirt from getting in (if you please).

Shirts are all long sleeves, they’re very sun smart,

They carry lots of water, they know their part.

Jeans are standard out here on the job,

Especially when mustering and feeding the mob.

We pour out the cotton, urea and seed,

The cattle mill ‘round – they’re glad of our deed.

The kids find their pets and give them a pat,

“Hello old friend,” comes from under a felt hat.

The troughs are fine, now what about calves,

They’re mothers are thin, no wonder they starve.

We find a little one its mothers not found,

It’s laying in the shade making not a sound.

The kids pick it up and put it in the back,

Another poddy calf, we head down the track.

Back to the house with others no doubt,

The toll of this terrible, long lasting drought.

Word comes in that the waters up north,

Are not as reliable as one had thought.

5 days of water are left that’s all,

What do we do? What do we call?

The questions keep flying, how will we cope?

The cattle need water – do we pray or just hope?

The weather map tells of a good lot of rain,

Heading this way will it be the same?

We’ve seen this before and seen it all go,

Slip south or east and bring no river flow.

Too scared to hope, too weary to believe,

We understand how the rain could relieve.

Another day passes and the heat doesn’t stop,

If there’s no reprieve we surely will drop.

The boys on the dozers come in from the heat,

The air con is working they sink to their feet.

‘Twas 42 today they gasp out at last,

I wish this heat wave would hurry go past.

We wake Wednesday morning with grey clouds above,

Do we dare to hope for the rain that we love?

The wind brings it in and there’s a light little patter,

It builds on the tin roof with quite a loud clatter.

By mid-afternoon there’s 10 mls in the gauge,

Will this go down in his-tor-ies page?

The children finish school and run out in the mud,

Oh! what fun this is not a scud.

They kick and scream and roll around,

Enjoying the cool they splash on the ground.

They haven’t seen it for such a long while,

To their faces it has brought such a huge smile.

Days pass by and no promise of rain,

Dust, high temps and wind again.

The dozer leaks oil, it needs a new track,

Quickly fix or mulga the cattle will lack.

The parts can be found in the USA,

Hope they come within a few days.

The school room keeps going at lightning pace,

2 hours of on air, “That lesson was ace”.

All spelling and reading, English and more,

Maths, Science and History assessments to score.

EKindy, year six, year four and year one,

November is here, the years nearly done.

Our days as a VISE have now come to an end,

Back home now we sadly say good bye to new friends.

We’ve loved every minute of our time spent here,

We hope to come back – maybe next year.

Next time no sickness or drought to confront,

Maybe fishes and birds on the lake we could hunt!

Thank you for a wonderful experience Hoch family.

AHVISE Kids Creative Competition

Dear Valued AHVISE Community,


We have received plenty of submissions from our recent AHVISE Kids Competition and we are blown away by the creativity. We want to show the submissions we have received so far since we’re over halfway through. Scroll down to see these great pictures.


Robert, 7, QLD
‘Ha, do you know what we use this for?’


Robert, 7, QLD
”Heading to the pub by Robert”


Sarah, 4, QLD
”Sarah’s favorite thing is a rainbow because she loves seeing all the colors and it comes after rain.”


Robert, 7 years old, QLD
‘Sunset over Gilberton, my home’


Robert, 7, QLD
”Keeping warm’’


Robert, 7 years old, QLD
”The preschool kids are going to bed” – taken on his iPad.’’


We can’t wait to see more of your submissions, remember competition ends October 31st so get your pictures in before then to win a $50 gift voucher.


Good Luck!



*NEW* AHVISE Virtual Tutoring Program!


Dear Valued AHVISE Community,


At AHVISE we are dedicated to improving our services to better help our families living in rural/remote areas. Recently, we introduced our virtual classroom feature for volunteers and families. We have since decided to expand on this and include an online tutoring platform. This will provide new alternatives for volunteers to provide assistance to you and your family.

Below we have answered a few questions and included a step by step walkthrough on how to select this option when creating your placement. If you have any more questions please feel free to contact AHVISE for more answers.


What Is Online Tutoring?


Online tutoring is the newest development in education and is becoming increasingly popular worldwide. It works similarly to a physical classroom, and on some platforms, you can screen share. The volunteer and student can work one on one and the volunteer can assist the student with subjects they might be struggling with. We hope this platform will provide better assistance to your children living in rural areas.


How Does It Work?


The most common platform used for online tutoring is zoom, other platforms like Skype can also be used. By using zoom your volunteer can share their screen to partner read a story, or use the whiteboard to draw pictures and play activities together.


Why Do We Need It?


We understand there can sometimes be schedule conflict and your placement might not be filled on time. Living in remote areas can be challenging and we hope to eliminate these problems by providing you with different options. This platform is non-compulsory which gives you the freedom to choose what works best for you.

Can Volunteers Still Visit Us?

You still have the ability to request a volunteer to visit and help you on the farm. Online tutoring works to supplement our current program and provide you with new avenues to explore. On our website when you create a placement you will have 3 options, volunteer, online tutor or both. Then we will pair the right volunteer to your family for a great placement.


How To Select ‘Virtual Tutoring’: 

Below we have included a step by step guide on how to select ‘virtual tutoring’ when creating a placement. Keep in mind you will also be able to choose both virtual tutoring and a home-stay tutor.


Step 1: Visit AHVISE

Visit www.ahvise.org.au and click the ‘LOG IN button on the top right-hand corner of the website. If you have forgotten your log in details please contact Claudia Mon-Thurs 12-2pm.

Step 2: Login

Enter your login details.

Step 3: Create a placement

Click ‘create placement’ on the top header once you’ve logged into your account

Step 4: Choose a placement type

After filling out your placement details scroll down to the bottom of the page and choose your ‘preferred type of placement’.

Step 5: Choose a placement option

Choose a placement option from the drop-down list.

Step 6: Preview 

Once you’ve chosen your ideal placement, click preview before submitting.

Step 7: Submit 

Click edit listing to change information or submit listing to make your placement live so volunteers can see it.


We hope this was helpful for you and answered any questions you have in regards to the virtual tutoring program. If you have any inquiries or more questions to ask in regards to our current programs feel free to email us at info@ahvise.org.au or call us on (07) 3103 2070.  



How To Enter: AHVISE Kids Competition




Dear Valued AHVISE Community,


We are excited to announce we will be hosting a kids drawing competition for our AHVISE Families. We hope to run frequent competitions for both our Families & Volunteers to engage with our AHVISE Community and show our appreciation for your continued support.


How To Enter:


  • Draw, paint or submit a photograph of your favourite part of life on the farm with a short description about your picture.
  • Upload your image into the Virtual Classroom and our team will collect your pictures.
  • Remember: Each child can submit their photo up to 5 times, all entries constitute “1 ticket” to win (so 5 images = 5 chances to win!)


  • Be registered as an AHVISE Volunteer or AHVISE Family who has booked a previous placement or is currently attending one.
  • Be signed up to use the AHVISE Virtual Classroom


How To Submit:

If you have already been provided with your login details for the virtual classroom please continue the following steps. If you haven’t please contact AHVISE to set up an account for you.

  1. Login with your username and password provided by AHVISE http://classroom.ahvise.org.au/login
  2. Find the ‘classes’ tab and search your last name EXAMPLE: ABC Family Class
  3. Click ‘view’ on the classes tab
  4. Find the assignments tab and click ‘add’
  6. Upload your PNG or JPG image
  7. Click ‘submit’ and then you’re done 🙂


Winners & Prizes:

AHVISE will announce 3 winners at random on October 31st, 2018. Each winner will receive a gift voucher valued at $50 to use at a store of their choice.

As we receive entries we will share them on Facebook and Instagram, we encourage our volunteers to participate. We encourage you to check our social media accounts over the coming weeks and LIKE the entries as they are posted, this would be great motivation for the kids.

If you are a volunteer who has been booked to attend an upcoming placement please contact Nadege to get access to the Virtual Classroom. This way you can encourage your kid to upload their own entry for a chance to win.

Our AHVISE Team can’t wait to see the wonderful submissions we hope to receive from you during the time of our competition!

Good Luck,