Page 2083 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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working with these programs since their inception. One of those spoke yesterday about her experience, and she said that in the 50 years, I think it was, that she has been in Canberra, she has volunteered in 40 years of that. To all the volunteers of ACT Health, you are an inspiration to volunteering. Your dedication in supporting the staff and the patients is greatly appreciated, and we thank you.

According to Australian Bureau of Statistics research from 2010 the ACT community has a high volunteering rate of 38 per cent, which is above the national average and on par with Queensland. This pattern was evident across most age groups and types of activities and organisations. As the Chief Minister said yesterday, the ACT performs particularly well in the 18 to 24 age group. Like other jurisdictions, more women volunteer than men, however, only just. More and more men are joining the volunteer workforce every day.

There are 2,500 non-profit and community organisations in the ACT, most of which work with volunteers. Most volunteers work in sport and recreation organisations followed by education, community welfare and religious organisations. The rate of regular volunteering varies as people move through different stages of their lives, as I said before. People are more likely to volunteer if they undertook some voluntary work as a child, as I did, and if their parents were also volunteers, as mine were. Whilst I started off my voluntary experience as a Red Cross volunteer, I then went on to volunteer as a nursing sister in the Northern Territory. As the wife of a person working in remote communities, one was required to volunteer time with whatever skill you had. I then went on to volunteer when I arrived in the ACT as a way of finding out how my community ticked and making connections in my community. Now as a member of this Legislative Assembly I am unable, as you would understand, Mr Assistant Speaker, to volunteer during the day. So I volunteer on the weekends for Greening Australia, for my community fire unit when it is operational and also for my Landcare group, the Friends of the Pinnacle.

Organisations are recognising that young people are developing through volunteering a sense of belonging in the community and they are using their volunteer effort as a pathway to employment through gaining work experience and skills. It is not widely recognised that many people volunteer for reasons such as that—to gain skills and experience as a pathway to employment. It should be recognised there are many, many motivations to volunteer, and not all of them are just because one wants to help the community. As the volunteer I was referring to at the hospital said yesterday, she always has gained more from her volunteering than she has actually given.

As I mentioned before, there is a great diversity of volunteering roles in the ACT, including in sectors such as sport, art, heritage, environmental protection, health, education, science, emergency services, policing, transport and caring roles such as friendly visiting, and not forgetting boards of governance and administration. However, volunteers are often unseen and unappreciated. That is why weeks like this are so important. Whether behind the scenes or way out in front, volunteers are there making a difference every day. Do we stop and think about the numerous volunteers in school canteens, for instance, in school reading programs, the P&C and the school boards? On weekends so many are engaged in sport across Canberra ovals—hundreds of people giving their time and energy without payment.

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