Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 4 Hansard (24 March) . . Page.. 1403..
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (3.41), in reply: Thank you very much, members; I am really appreciative of your contributions to this debate. Mr Seselja, Ms Bresnan and Ms Burch mentioned a number of important roles that volunteers play in our community and how beneficial they are both in the work they do socially and also in the economic contribution. They also mentioned the important aspects of supporting volunteers.
Mr Seselja particularly mentioned the financial support that volunteers need. Of course, this is an important aspect of making the decision people often need to make about whether they can volunteer or not. I have often mentioned in this place that volunteering is not free. Whilst it is freely given, sometimes it costs an organisation to manage a volunteer, and certainly it can cost a volunteer financially if he or she wishes to do it.
That is why the government has provided financial assistance to the tune of $1.25 million to Volunteering ACT to pass on to volunteer organisations assistance to pay for out-of -pocket costs, petrol, bus tickets and the kind of things they need to assist them in their volunteering. These funds are distributed to the community to recognise that volunteers, especially at this time of economic hardship, may want to volunteer but may find it financially disadvantageous. We know that we need to put the investment in as a government if we are going to support our volunteers to continue.
Ms Bresnan also made a point about socialisation, as did the minister. We know that social inclusion can have a positive effect on the health and physical and emotional wellbeing of older people. One way people can obviously remain connected with their community is through volunteering opportunities. That is a reason why people often choose to volunteer—they want to continue to have a network. It is particularly helpful for older men when they leave the workforce, because sometimes that is their only network.
Volunteers contribute to the community by helping that social cohesion and, as Mr Seselja said, by picking up people and taking them to social events and making sure they are socially connected. Volunteering is recognised as an important indicator of the social health and connectedness of a community. Research tells us that there is a strong link between volunteering and health, suggesting that volunteering may lead to improved physical and mental health. Indeed, there is also a contribution to our economic life because it keeps older people healthier for longer.
A clear benefit of volunteering, especially for those who are ageing or retiring, is keeping active and feeling part of the community. Indeed, every Monday at the start of Seniors Week there is the breakfast, which a number of us around this room were glad to go to this year. The Chief Minister encouraged seniors to volunteer and to assist other people to attend Seniors Week events by offering to pick them up and to take them to those events.
Older people who volunteer provide skills and experience acquired during their professional and private lives, as I said when I was talking to my motion before. They