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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 9 May 2017) . . Page.. 1474 ..

Volunteer board members are a classic example of the unsexy hidden volunteering that thousands of Australians dedicate their time to. Board work is not glamorous; it mostly involves reading piles of documents and thousands of pages of baffling laws—some of which possibly were passed by this Assembly—regulations and procedures, followed by the exciting prospect of sitting in a boardroom for a monthly meeting, trawling through financial data.

In the early 2000s changes to insurance and the massive increase in the cost of insuring organisations’ activities made it very difficult for many small volunteer organisations to afford to hire venues. I was very pleased in 2008 that in the parliamentary agreement we were able to ensure that the ACT government was able to cover insurance for organisations wanting to hire ACT government venues, such as Albert Hall and the Yarralumla Woolshed. While I was in the Assembly the previous time I helped to prompt the government to organise group insurance for all the community councils, which has made it possible for them to organise public events.

My colleague Mr Rattenbury, when he was minister for TAMS, worked to ensure that the volunteer insurance that covers groups like ParkCare was extended to other volunteer organisations wishing to undertake specific activities on ACT government land, such as friends of the Curtin shops and the Lyneham Commons gardeners. These are the kinds of practical supports the government can put into place to support our wonderful and valued volunteers in the ACT.

Going back to last night, a few things jumped out at me. First was the wonderful statistic that four out of 10 Canberrans volunteer. That is really huge; it is well above the Australian average of 35 per cent and well above the OECD averages. In fact, the Charities Aid Foundation’s world giving index has some interesting stats from 2015 about Australian volunteering: 40 per cent of Australians have formally volunteered with an organisation and 68 per cent of Australians have helped out a stranger or someone they did not know.

That second one might sound a little bit odd, but the Charities Aid Foundation’s methodology provides an interesting insight into our perceptions of volunteering. They measure what they call “giving” in three ways: giving money, giving time to an organisation and giving time to people you do not know. The International Labour Organisation decided in 2016 to redefine volunteer work as any “unpaid, non-compulsory activity to produce goods or services for people outside of your family”.

Think about that and think about what you picture as volunteering. When you talk about volunteering, most think of the local scout volunteer taking kids out for a hike or many of the other examples that my colleagues have already talked about. But that is the visible volunteering, the formal volunteering. Like the way we think about work and we ignore the inconvenient truth of emotional labour and domestic work, we often do not think about the hidden volunteering of caring for friends, family and neighbours.

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