ADOPT A BACKPACKER: Citrus Pruners and backpackers Lorenzo Neri, Jules Gorny, and Niccolo Cerutti working at Lynbrook Citrus, north of Gayndah. Picture: Lachie Millard
ADOPT A BACKPACKER: Citrus Pruners and backpackers Lorenzo Neri, Jules Gorny, and Niccolo Cerutti working at Lynbrook Citrus, north of Gayndah. Picture: Lachie Millard

Stranded backpackers adopted through social media

BACKPACKERS across the region have been given a lifeline during the uncertain times of coronavirus.

The social media movement Adopt a Backpacker has become viral across Australia, with more than 20,000 Facebook members across several states.

Co-founder Abel Manning said what started out as a way to help tourists in Western Australia has exploded, and could potentially help those displaced in the North Burnett.

"The main idea was to find them somewhere to stay, as there were thousands of travellers who had nowhere to go," Mr Manning said.

"This movement gave them a way to get free support, with many Australian families offering their homes to these travellers."

Beginning in Western Australia more than a month ago, the groups categorised by states have acted as a platform for travellers to find accommodation during the COVID-19 crisis.

Mr Manning believes those in the North Burnett can be helped, with the rgeion receiving an enormous influx of international workers after the pandemic begun.

"There's isn't a big demand in hospitality at the moment, so a lot of backpackers didn't have a source of income," he said.

"Many others travelled out to the bush to find work, and this didn't help either."

Citrus orchards across the region have reportedly knocked back pickers looking for work, due to a combination of virus restrictions and a small crop.

Campgrounds, hostels, and rentals then closed their doors to new visitors to the region, citing fears of coronavirus infections.

Mr Manning said more than two million travellers were left displaced during the initial stages of the pandemic, with those unable to fly back to their home country struggling to survive.

"I can't imagine how it feels to be in a country without any support," Mr Manning said.

"Travellers were told by the federal government to speak to their consulates and go home.

"These things aren't so easy when affordable air travel is now non existent.

"A flight can be in upwards of $10,000."

Volunteers of the organisation have been seen posting the Adopt a Backpacker QLD group to multiple North Burnett community groups, with minor success already.

The movement has now created a website, where backpackers can register for free to find housing.

"This is part of a planned move forward, and the website is still being built," he said.

"We're looking to reach out to farms and fruit picking places to help them gain work as well.

"It'll work off a rating system, and it'll be a one-stop shop for them."

You can head to the website here, or join the QLD Facebook group here.



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