Page 434 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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minister for sport, I have seen that myself in the various sports I am involved in and have been involved in. We know how much of a role they play. Again, often people focus on the volunteers they see on a Saturday morning, but I particularly take the opportunity to reflect on the role of many board members in these organisations, people that are the treasurers and the secretaries of these organisations who play such a vital role.

Volunteers bring all sorts of different skills and qualifications across all sorts of activities that they are involved in. The value proposition is, frankly, impossible to quantify. It is impossible to do some analysis that says, “It adds this much value to the economy.” I will come back to that point a little later.

I want to take the opportunity today to particularly reflect on the role of environmental volunteers. Members will recall that last week I tabled the State of the environment report. One of the things the commissioner and her team drew out in that report was the role of volunteers in contributing to the state of the environment in the ACT and the enormous role that is played, much of which is not well known. I was very pleased to see the commissioner draw that out in her four-yearly State of the environment report, because volunteering in this sphere, as in many others, promotes social relationships between generations, genders and people; promotes healthier and more active lifestyles; and gives purpose, including a feeling of giving something back to nature and the community.

Environmental volunteering is not only important in national parks and on rural properties but increasingly important in cities. There are initiatives such as the Lyneham Commons, which I was very pleased to provide the land for when I was Minister for Territory and Municipal Services; and others such as the Friends of Mount Majura, the public servants who are improving garden beds, and other groups who contribute to weeding, planting, urban artwork, litter collection, erosion control and the design, development and maintenance of community gardens. I could literally rattle off a list as long as my arm in thinking about the various contributions, even just within ParkCare. I mentioned the Friends of Mount Majura. There were 34 groups across the city the last time I checked the numbers, and each of them has many members doing huge amounts of work and bringing both energy and expertise to the table. We are now seeing the development of suburban compost stations, all initiated, built and maintained by volunteers.

The benefits of the contributions made by environmental volunteers include unparalleled local knowledge of the surrounding environment and conditions; local species knowledge; the sheer physical labour of planting, weeding and removing debris; monitoring and evaluation; education and raising awareness of local environmental issues; encouraging practices which support the needs of present and future generations; and, as we have seen particularly highlighted in recent times, caring for injured wildlife.

There are also citizen science initiatives such as Frogwatch which play a vital role in both monitoring the environment and building long-term datasets. The persistent dedication in the citizen science area is particularly to be noted, given the importance

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