Page 1473 - Week 05 - Tuesday, 9 May 2017

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Each fortnight, on Sunday evening, I read the newspapers over the air so that those who are not able to read the newspapers themselves do not miss out; or they can read along with me to enhance their reading skills. It feels great to help out my community, but I have also benefitted. I have developed radio and speaking skills, which I would not have done otherwise, I have learnt how to pronounce many difficult words and I have had the pleasure of meeting so many interesting people at the station over the years. Again, like my other colleagues, I would encourage anyone who is able to reach out to their local community organisations and experience how inspiring and gratifying volunteering can be.

Volunteering and Contact ACT is funded by the ACT government and is the peak body for volunteering in the ACT. It is the key source in the ACT for volunteering information and referral to Canberra’s volunteering services and programs. ACT government employees are also entitled to three days of paid community service leave in a 12-month period. The contribution volunteers make in delivering community services in Canberra cannot be overstated. Again I thank the opposition leader for bringing forward the discussion today. The commitment and creativity of volunteers in Canberra is a testament to their humanity and generosity, and it makes me so proud of my city.

MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.01): Last night I had the pleasure of joining some of my Assembly colleagues at the Volunteering and Contact ACT volunteering awards. We were sitting in a room with over 300 of the most inspiring, committed and heartfelt people I have met: people who care, people who give and people who want a better world and are prepared to work for it.

The ACT is reliant on volunteering and the free labour that volunteers provide, especially in bush regeneration, which is largely undertaken by volunteers through the dozens of ParkCare and Landcare groups. Canberrans are very proud of the fact that we live in the bush capital, but it is quite likely that the majority of people do not realise just how many people volunteer their time to help regenerate their local bushlands, often by regularly volunteering with their local ParkCare group. I know no government can afford to pay for the amount of work that is done by our volunteer conservationists, not only through regeneration work but also through citizen science volunteer work; for example, Frogwatch, Waterwatch and the Canberra Ornithologists Group. The hundreds of people who collect data on our natural environment each year contribute to a better understanding of the health of our local ecosystems.

I also want to talk about something which is possibly not uniquely Canberran but still very much Canberran. Our city is blessed with a large number of articulate, highly skilled, highly educated people. Particularly as my generation moves on from the workforce, we are seeing baby boomers retiring from the APS and full-time management jobs; they are retiring from demanding management roles. After having spent a life in the service of the public, they often spend their retirement providing indispensable support to community organisations, on their boards and management committees.

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