International Volunteer Day (IVD) is mandated by the UN General Assembly and is held each December. It is a day for volunteers and volunteer based organisations to celebrate their efforts, to share their values, and to showcase the difference they make in their communities. The 2016 theme is Global Applause, Give Volunteers a Hand.
According to Liverpool Plains Shire Council’s (LPSC) Deputy Mayor, Councillor Doug Hawkins, the community’s volunteers are arguably its most valuable and hidden asset.
“On behalf of LPSC, the wider community and to mark International Volunteers Day, I’d like to say thank you to all the Shire’s volunteers for the massive contribution they make, be it as individuals, through service and sporting organisations, emergency services, in aged care, in our schools, our libraries, our Home Support Services, the health system, at our cemeteries, in restoring and maintaining the natural environment and community development, the list goes on and on. To all volunteers, your contribution is invaluable and crucial to society’s wellbeing. At the same time, I’d like others in the community to ponder how much the poorer we’d be without the volunteers’ selfless giving of their time and energies,” Councillor Hawkins said.
“It is vital we all recognise and celebrate the outstanding contribution that volunteers make to a strong, cohesive society. It is essential the community, business, and all tiers of government work together to build an Australian society that encourages and nurtures a culture of volunteering whilst supporting our communities in their engagement in valuable and productive voluntary activities,” he continued.
Recent studies of the level of volunteer activity in Australia indicate that volunteers contribute significantly to the economy. It has been suggested that the value and volume of volunteer contribution should be included in the national accounts published quarterly by the Australian
Bureau of Statistics because failure to recognise the economic value of volunteer work to the national economy has implications for evaluating policy alternatives and the social recognition of volunteer effort. Whatever we do, we must never take their contribution for granted,” Councillor Hawkins said.
“Considering the massive contribution our volunteers make and an ageing population it is becoming more and more important that we encourage additional young people to become volunteers. One of the many myths about volunteering is that most are older people. Yes, the highest rates of volunteering are to be found in older age brackets, but that doesn’t mean that younger people don’t, or don’t want to, volunteer.
“A couple of years ago, the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that of all the people who volunteered 9.4% were between 18 and 24. As almost 6.1 million people volunteered in that year, that means over a half million young people, some 27%, volunteered in some fashion. Volunteering for groups related to sport and recreation was the most popular choice.
“Keeping this in mind, those looking to recruit volunteers need to remember that they will give their time only if they are motivated to do so. This means that recruitment must not be a process of persuading people to do something they don’t want to do, rather it needs to be a process of showing people they can do something they already want to do,” he continued.
“Global Applause recognises all volunteers everywhere and the contribution they make. So, join us in giving the Shire’s volunteers a hand. 95% of volunteers say that volunteering is related to feelings of wellbeing and that just a few hours of volunteer work makes a difference in happiness and mood. The experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self-worth, a social role and health enhancement. How about putting your hand up and volunteering?” Councillor Hawkins concluded.