AHVISE Podcast Episode 03: Volunteers Margot & Gary Chat About Why It’s A Win Win Win for AHVISE Tutors

AHVISE Podcast Episode 03: Volunteers Margot & Gary Chat About Why It’s A Win Win Win for AHVISE Tutors

AHVISE Volunteers Margot & Gary Chat About Being Volunteers

KATE: Welcome to the AHVISE podcast. This is Kate and in today’s show, we’re going to talk to two volunteers, Margot and Gary Sanders. And they have been volunteering with AHVISE since we started and they actually have been doing it now over six years with other organizations as well. They’re going to share their journey as volunteers, what’s involved and how they see it as a win, win, win to be part of a program like AHVISE and we hope it inspires you to register and become part of the program to Okay, here’s the show.


KATE: So look, Thank you. I just wanted to say hi to Gary and Margot who are volunteers with AHVISE and have been working on the volunteer remote program for years basically having me so Hi guys and thank you for coming and talking to me today.

MARGOT: It’s a pleasure.

GARY: Hi Kate

KATE: Fantastic and I just wanted to chat to you guys today. And I really wanted to get a bit more insight from a volunteers point of view because this program is quite unique to match up families with volunteers, and we do all the background checks and liase on the phone, get everyone and then you go live with people for two-four months, sometimes six weeks. So really wanted to get your perspective of that. And first of all, just wanted to ask like with your current life and working as a volunteer, doing remote work, how did you come to get to that place or that particular volunteer work originally, like, how did you evolve? Was that because of the teaching or what. Where did you come from in that way?

MARGOT: We were involved in education, yes, I was teaching and Gary was involved in education towards the end of his work life but I guess all the way through we’re now retired and have been since some into 2010 – 2011 I guess all of our working life though we were involved in clubs and organizations and volunteered to do different roles within those. So I guess volunteering has always been part of our life. [Inaudible] is from our family, I guess.

KATE: So you really bought both of those aspects of what you already did, which was training and volunteering together in the one thing I guess, do it. [Yeah]

GARY: Yeah, we actually had a family friend who had done it prior to us, she’d done over 10 placements over an eight or 10 year period and we’re talking to her and she mentioned it we went Oh, actually that sounds like a pretty good thing to do. So we you know obviously logged onto the website at that stage seven years or so years ago and joined up and it’s just gone from there.

MARGOT: I guess it joins our love of travel in the outback with a passion to volunteer as well. There’s lots of things to volunteer at or for in Australia, but that sort of suited our skill set, I guess.

KATE: Yeah, and it brought together the travel so the adventure side of it came into it.

MARGOT: Yeah, absolutely

KATE: So that’s really awesome. So what would you say is your favorite thing about doing it? Because it is quite a big commitment to do. So what would you say is one of the things that you really like about doing remote outreach work like this?

GARY: I’ll start there. I think it’s one of the few things Kate in the world that is a win, win, win. [Right], and I’ll expand on that by saying that  it’s obviously a win for us because we get to visit places that we wouldn’t normally visit and we get to a real understanding of how Australia works and the issues and there may be some good things but like just getting a real understanding of how Australia operates. It’s a win obviously for the parents, particularly probably the mom because she gets a break from the school room for a period of time. And that could be because they’re busy mustering, shearing or cropping or another baby or illness or sickness or I’ve just had enough of the kids and I want to break whatever it is and the big one is it’s a massive win for the kids because they love to have someone new there and I think Sonia mentioned that that you know that love to have someone else there to be able to show around the place trying to impress with their schoolwork to get better marks and things like that. So we really regard is a win, win, win from my point of view.

KATE: Yeah. Is that same for your Margot?

GARY: Oh, yes. Yeah, it is.

MARGOT: Yeah. And I guess the other thing too, it’s really great just to see the kids develop while you’re there. [Right] just to see how they progress in the short time that you there as well just say them really come on, and particularly the younger ones or even the older ones. Just you know getting into their work and finding different ways of how to learn or how to get their work done and just getting ideas from different people I guess but you’re saying them develop is a great thing for me.

AD BREAK: [You can visit our website at www. a h v i s e. o rg. au.]

KATE: Do you guys keep seeing the same family each year? Have you seen a few now and how does that work?

MARGOT: We deliberately go to different families every year? [Right] We don’t go back to the same ones. That’s a choice that we have made. Now, I know some of the tutors do go back to the same ones. And that’s fine. [Yeah] but we like to go to different ones. It’s different parts of Australia. So we get to understand issues in different parts. But it’s also just seeing different kids, I suppose you’re learning, teaching them some different things, getting some different experiences.

KATE: Well, visiting different locations.


GARY: I’d probably just add to that our placement, we’ve been in a thing from a cropping station, to cattle stations, to sheep’s and goats. We’ve been on a bush heritage conservation park, we’ve been to a lake where the water managers and looked out and with their two children. So we try and have some variation and we’ve got another one coming up this year where we’re going to be, you know, Native type on an island. So it’ll be working with Aboriginal children. So we just try and come up with different aspects if you like so we can get a broad understanding of Australia and how it all works. [Inaudible]

MARGOT: We like to share the love, and share our expertise I suppose as well, we’re obviously learning a lot as we go around as well.

KATE: So if someone was listening to this because I think a lot of people that will listen to a considering tutoring they haven’t actually taken the leap yet what would you say is one of the biggest challenges they need to be prepared for to do this kind of tutoring work or this  volunteering work?

MARGOT: We would look at it as an opportunity to get out there and understand what is happening out there but look if you’re someone who is I guess needs the coffee every day at the local coffee shop or you need lots of people around you well it’s probably not for you but if you enjoy that travel, if you enjoy the opportunity to just get out there and mix with those rural people you don’t mind that space that outback area, and if you like helping people, you like helping the younger generation I’m pretty passionate about reading. Gary is certainly passionate about looking at different ways, coming in different ways, the study from different angles, getting outside to do the learning, might be with skipping or doing riding in the dirt or walking around the property, looking at different things, but using the literacy and numeracy not necessarily sitting at a desk. So, if you’re a bit flexible and versatile perhaps coming a bit from left field sometimes that’s what you need to be I think that sort of person.

KATE:  I know with AHVISE you don’t have to be like an ex-teacher you may be just a parent yourself you’re homeschooled or whatever and so they say look as long as you’re willing to go there and help on that farm, that, I don’t think you need to have a teaching degree. Do you what would you say?

GARY: I’ll answer that because I don’t have a teaching degree. I work at a school but I work with integration with kids and their sports coordinator and some things like that so but not as a trained teacher, however I’ve coached Junior sports teams pretty much all my life. So I’m working with kids, so I think you need to have a genuine love for kids, for youth if you want. I think that is one of the things but because of my not necessarily been trained as a teacher Margot just made the thing I look at other ways once we establish a relationship within the first few days with the students you then work out which ones don’t want to be in the classroom and I’d prefer to be outside doing something that is that a quite happy to sit down and look at the computer for a little while.

So yeah, you try and come up with what’s going to work best for them to get the best outcome. And obviously, then the best grade or the best mark are the best assessment at the end of that, well subject and that project. So I think it’s good sometimes to have a slightly different outside school approach which is what the moms do, most of the mums are not teacher-trained, [yeah, exactly], they just follow the program that’s presented by the school of the air teachers.

MARGOT: I think you do need to be pretty open minded about because every family situation is going to be different. So you need to be open minded about the family that you get to and you might not have thought of doing things that way or you might not operate that way but you can see that it’s actually working so you take that on board because you can’t change anything as such when you get there like you’re there for a short period of time. So you can’t take over necessarily run it the way you think it should be run and that might be the best way anyway really and yeah look I think if you can adapt into the family activities, you know I certainly join in with those as much as you can or as much as you want to.

GARY: We certainly make sure we go to all the school camps or the athletic sports or the swimming sports or cross country or whatever. Last year, we went to a fundraising for the ICPA, they were doing a fundraiser at a camp draft. So we went up there and assisted about four or five other mums who were catering for the all the competitors and the officials.

MARGOT: We went along with that joined in and helped out and just to see what they do on the other end.

KATE: So do you stay in touch with the kids in any way, even just on Facebook or that after it or do is once you’re done, you’re done or?

MARGOT: No, we do stay in touch but I guess that varies from family to family,[well], some families we stay in touch with more than others. And I guess that’s just a personal thing. And what sort of a relationship you’ve built in the time that you’re there as well. We feel comfortable with all our placements and the results that we’ve had but yeah there’s just some people that you gel with more than others and but certainly we do keep in touch with them and we’ve gone back to visit some of the families and caught up with them in various places in our travels.

KATE: How many years now we’ve been doing this? Would you say, are we talking 10 years?

GARY: About six, six to 7 years. We did the first one in 2012.

KATE: Seems like six months right just flown by.

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


KATE: Over the years have you seen ways for the kids in the remote areas that could – there could be ways for them to be better helped. Do you notice anything like that or do you think everything’s great or?

MARGOT: Things have certainly improved since we’ve looked at it just the communication with the school of the air and reporting back and things like that because it used to be the kids would send their work back by mail and then we might get to the end of a six week placement and not had any feedback from the school at all because it just hasn’t been marked or sent back. But now because they can scan it off and send it back. They might get feedback that day, which is fantastic with the kids and for us because then you sort of know whether you’re on track or not.

So that certainly has improved, but I think we just need we need more volunteers. We just need – because there’s lots of families that don’t get any help. So we need to get the message out somehow to get more volunteers.


GARY: I would agree with that the promotion of the program I think is now probably where Aussie Helpers is that and some need to have a bit of a brainstorm perhaps as to how we can attract the Southern state, retirees and want to get away for the winter to able to help out and we do a little bit of public speaking and we’re involved in groups down here but we spread the word as often as we can. And we’ve had a few people that have said, Oh, that sounds interesting, you know, and we put them onto the website to look it up and stuff, we try to [INAUDIBLE].

MARGOT: We contacted ABC yesterday to see if they could do something about it.

GARY: And we’ve had a reply from them that they’re doing a thing with Alice Springs School of the air or something will be televised August, July or Sunday or something [mid-year, yeah] in the winter season for an episode. [Inaudible]

MARGOT: We thought that was a way of probably promoting it as well, and just letting people say, what does happen and then encouraging people to sign up to get out there and I think the other thing people need to know too, is that the length of time now is negotiable with the families because when we were doing it early on was with the other organization It was a six week block but now, with Aussie Helpers was it’s negotiable with the family so if you wanted to be there for longer than that, and like a whole term thing you could or if you wanted to be even shorter, if you were just passing through and you just had a month, you could give family you know that would be fine as well because the families are happy with any length really.

KATE: Yeah, and we’re also looking at targeting through Facebook things like you know, tourists that are you know going through the outback and maybe want to stop off somewhere for a month. As long as they do our background checks because that can take a few weeks, so it’s not something they can join today and be there tomorrow. But, majority of people are like you two actually, they’re sort of semi retired, retired, a lot of singles, not just couples actually which is surprising. I guess just people wanting adventure but wanting purpose at the same time.

MARGOT: Yeah, so that’s what we would say with our travel a lot linking in with a placement I guess it gives us some purpose for travel. It gives us a reason to go to another area or it might be somewhere where we want to go back you can’t just, rock up to the station door and say, we’re here can we have a look around? You have to have – and you actually want to do something for them. So you look at the placements and you go well, we haven’t been there or that sounds interesting or, you know, that’s a bit different. So we’ll do that. And then you do you travel along the way. So you have a bit of a holiday as well as doing some work on along the way.

GARY: Just anybody who does listen to this podcast, if they can just continue to spread the word and try and encourage people to go on to the Aussie Helpers website, AHVISE link and just see what’s involved in it and how they can register as you said, they don’t have to be a teacher as long – because all the all the lessons as we know are prepared by the School of the Air whichever one you linked up to. So it’s just a matter of – and you get a workbook and you get a cheat answer book so you can look at the answers so you can refer back to it if you need to. [Learn yourself] or use regularly with maths in particular, but you sort of, you just following through, and you’re just trying to find ways to make it enjoyable for the kids to learn. That’s the key.

MARGOT: And you don’t have to do any marking or anything like that. Like, you don’t have to do any assessment. So, people don’t need to be worried about oh I’m going to make up the lesson or, I have to know all this information because it’s actually given to you, and then it gets sent off for assessment. So the workload although while you’re there, I guess it’s fairly full on in your school hours but you know, you’re not actually doing a heap of work outside that.

 And the other thing that I just find it’s just really rewarding for yourself because we just learned so much about rural life, that’s, that’s the reward for us. So hopefully we’ve been useful to the family but you get that reward and that other information I guess you get a bit of a warm fuzzy blow.

KATE: Yeah, it’s a feel good job. You feel part of the actual family for that. I guess and then you get to leave and not have all the stresses that they have to continue with the poor things.

GARY: Nah, what we do then Kate is we come back and do all of our volunteering here and this time it’s about February where we’re going, how long is it before we go again? We’ve got to get out of here.

KATE: So, you will probably do it for a few more years, you think?

MARGO: Absolutely. [Obviously] As long as we’re fit and able and still sane and think we can still offer something to the families yeah, we’d be looking forward to doing it for a few more years.

GARY: Yeah, I would suggest that is the, the prime thing would be to get more volunteers.

KATE: Yeah, I agree.

GARY: It’ll be easier if you have more volunteers, let’s say you fifty more volunteers. All of a sudden volunteers are saying, well, you haven’t got the placements for me? I reckon it would be very easy to get the message sent out via the School of Airs to say, hang on. We’ve just had an influx of volunteers, is there anybody who would like some assistance from a tutor? Right put your put your placement notice in and I reckon you’d be inundated with the idea.

MARGOT: You will be flooded – It’s a good idea because people who are heading north of you know either us grey nomads that are getting out of the Southern climbs for winter [yes true], the best thing to plan where they’re going if you’ve got that out there could be something ‘yeah we could do that for a period of time’ or ‘oh I hadn’t thought of doing that’ you know so I think it’s certainly a great idea.

GARY: A few times, as Margot said I think would be about now sort of February to March before people go away on a wee travel or head north and the other time would be maybe September perhaps end of term three-ish if you’re looking at targeting teachers for the ones that are perhaps are going to retire at the end of the school year. So they’re sort of thinking, I’m going to retire oh, what am I going to do or they might be going to take long service leave for 12 months or something. So what am I going to do? So that might be another time. You know. So about now and about term 3 [until October] just to go or hang on. Maybe I could look that up and see if that’s something I could, you know, register for or get involved. Because as we know, the cards take a little while to get your background checks and all that stuff. So it does probably take three months in reality to probably have –  [onboard them].

KATE: Yeah, well, it can. Yeah, but no checks in place. Often they already do. They’ve already done volunteering. And they come to the party with that. But I don’t get involved in that Lyn handles that with Ann.

MARGOT: So yes, although, see because although there’s working with Children’s Cards they’re different in every state. Children’s Cards in Tasmania or Victoria, because you’ve had to for your volunteering but if you go to Queensland or the Northern Territory, it’s not relevant. You have to have one specifically for that state.

KATE: Yeah, it is a bit – [it’s frustrating] yeah, it is a bit frustrating, it’s a shame there’s not an Australia wide-one.

GARY: We would love that, we keep saying that all the time. There are so many things Kate that are state based licensing or regulations or whatever and we go, why is that not federal? Like, just make it so easier to be consistent across the board whether it be fishing licenses or if there’d be working with children cards, and then all the organizations that might need to tap into that to check for federals or people that are doing wrong things or whatever it would be much easier that’s one of the things we’ve worked at in our travels


KATE: To prepare for, well look I’m going to wrap it up there but I really appreciate having a chat and we’ll have a talk again in a year’s time. Who knows every year we’ll probably have a catch up

MARGOT: I think it’s a unique thing because I think Australia is the only place that has School of the Air.

Kate: I didn’t know about that but as far as placing tutors and doing all the management of it, except for VISE who did it years ago, like, I don’t think anyone does that. I think they kind of step back maybe they just like a job placement and I don’t know it. [yeah] It’s a bit micro-managed.

MARGOT: [Inaudible] It’s organized. You can say you know what’s happening. You know there’s a process to follow, which is really good.

KATE: All right. Thanks for chatting again soon. Okay. Bye ow.

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

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.