Page 2084 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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Volunteers play a key role in supporting the smooth running and the welcoming atmosphere of Canberra’s major public events, for example, the centenary celebrations and the ever-popular National Multicultural Festival. The role of volunteers at these events builds our sense of community and plays a significant role in the enjoyment, learning and appreciation we all experience by attending. However, it is not just social capital; it is also the economic contribution to the nation, and the jury is still out on what this means in real terms. Needless to say, it is probably in the billions.

On behalf of the government and during National Volunteer Week, I want to acknowledge the immense contribution that volunteering makes to the ACT community, both socially and financially. I encourage members of the community of all ages to consider volunteering and the great benefits it brings to us as individuals and collectively as a community. Most importantly, I thank all volunteers for their energy, commitment and skills that make our community stronger, healthier, happier and more environmentally sustainable. I urge all members in this place to make sure they thank a volunteer this week.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (5.51): I will start by thanking Mary Porter as a volunteer this week. I will take her at her word. My initial thanks are to Ms Porter for bringing this motion before the Assembly today. So I have at least achieved one thing that Mary Porter has not. On a sensible note, I really commend Ms Porter for bringing this motion before the Assembly. I think this is an annual event, the annual Mary Porter volunteer motion. Speaking for the opposition, we do enjoy the opportunity to talk about volunteers in our community. I think this is a nice occasion when the whole Assembly can actually get together and agree on something. At least we do that once a year, Mr Assistant Speaker.

Ms Porter: Glad of the opportunity, Mr Hanson.

Mr Barr: Are you sure you are going to cope with this emotionally, Jeremy?

MR HANSON: Volunteering is about helping others in our community and has many benefits. Members opposite are interjecting. Not more of your barbs are they, Mr Barr—your cutting barbs? It is not only positive for the community; I think it is also important for the individuals themselves. Volunteering is a highly personal form of contributing into the world we live in and contributing to our community and its lifestyle. Canberrans are very generous with their time and skill when it comes to volunteering in the ACT. It has the highest rate of volunteering; 38 per cent of our population volunteers.

Thousands of Canberrans give thousands of their hours to service organisations every year. The diversity of the ACT’s community interest is reflected in the range of volunteering activities engaged with. The primary area is sport and physical recreation. I must say a big hello here to the Easts under-seven rugby union coaches. I would not want that job, I can assure you—trying to chase a bunch of under-sevens around. Thanks very much to the Easts’ coaches. Community welfare has 19 per cent and education and training is also 19 per cent.

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