Helping hand forges lifelong bond

RELIEF: Max and Tina Zalakos from Nowra have been lending a hand to a family in WA.TINA and Max Zalakos can tell you first hand that living in the outback can be tough.That’s not because they experience it every day but because for two months they were the helping hand for a family living in the Gascoyne region of Western Australia.The couple, who were behind the sustainable house project in Nowra, volunteered with the Frontier Services Outback Links program.The program aims to reduce isolation and disadvantage in rural and remote parts of Australia by linking volunteers with outback people who need help.The Zalakoses were initially linked with Rebecca and Paul Burt for a fortnight last September.The connection was such a good one they extended their placement, staying for two months and making lifelong friends.The Burts’ half-million acre property was flood-ravaged. They lost 2000 cattle, hundreds of kilometres of fencing was damaged, stock was scattered and the emotional and financial cost of the floods was taking its toll.Mrs Zalakos said the experience showed her how little most of the population understand about what people on remote farms go through.“The hardship never stops. They went from drought to flood, to embargoes, and then became victims of goat rustling.“The Burts had $14,000 of goats stolen in the night – how many times can you get knocked down?”Mrs Burt had a sprained wrist while the Zalakoses were visiting so there were plenty of ways to help out.“We cooked, washed, looked after the children and were just generally lending a hand to make life on a remote property a little bit easier,” Mrs Zalakos said.“I think [Frontier Services Outback Links] is a great organisation, the whole reason we got involved was to encourage other people to become enthused to lend a hand.“You don’t have to go to WA, there’s loads of people in NSW who need help. There are a lot of people hurting out there with drought and floods and fires.“The placement gave us an understanding of how terribly difficult it is to live in the country sometimes,” Mrs Zalakos said.The Burts said they couldn’t have asked for a better couple to come and help them.“Max and Tina had raised their own family and just knew what to do,” Mrs Burt said.“Their help in the wake of the flood meant so much to us.“They were steady and reliable and able to work beside us with no fuss.“Max and Tina are fantastic people and will be very much missed here.“It is a shame they live so far away and can’t just pop in for a cuppa and a chat,” she said.This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.