Page 435 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 18 February 2020

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of the accuracy of the data and how much it contributes to building up knowledge over time.

One initiative we have seen in recent times is the Lids 4 Kids project here in Canberra. People all over the city have been engaged to pull together lids which can be converted into prosthetic hands for children. In some ways that has an environmental bent because of the gathering of the plastics, but also, obviously, it makes a significant humanitarian contribution.

One group that I particularly like in Canberra, which I am sure has been acknowledged in this place before, is the Canberra Indian Myna Action Group, which is working to reduce the impact of this exotic invader, including monitoring, trapping, disposing and evaluating. Since its inception in 2006 through to September 2019 there have been 2,470 people undertaking trapping, removing more than 70,000 myna birds from the Canberra environment. They have knocked the myna down from being, I think, the sixth most common bird species in Canberra to being about the 20th most common bird species in the city. I have not checked those numbers for a while, and it has probably ebbed and flowed a bit, but it gives you a sense of the scale of impact they were able to have in dealing with that exotic species.

As I touched on before, the commissioner had a bit of a go at putting an economic value on environmental volunteering. Whilst in some ways, as I said, it is hard to quantify, the commissioner has given it a good stab. To replace the level of environmental volunteering with paid employment would be inconceivable; it would be cost-prohibitive and strip the community of its agency in relation to environment, biodiversity, sustainability and climate change issues.

The economic value of volunteering cannot be overstated. A 2013 report cited in the ACT volunteering statement action plan found that ACT volunteers contributed $1.5 billion to the ACT economy annually and that environmental volunteers were an important part of that. The Office of the Commissioner for Sustainability and Environment economic accounts proof of concept 2017-18 estimated the value of volunteer activity to be in excess of 22 per cent of total ACT government expenditure on the environment. Replacement cost in wages was in the order of $50 million over a number of different financial years. It gives you a sense of the scale of effort that is being put in.

There is so much more I could say about volunteering. With the Multicultural Festival on this weekend, there will be many volunteers out there, all of whom will be proudly promoting their culture, preparing food and drinks, performing and overall promoting social cohesion and inclusion. It is another great example. I know it is often talked about in this place because it is one of the biggest events in this city. It is not only a great celebration of multicultural diversity but also a great celebration of volunteering.

Let me conclude by saying that the value of unpaid work to society is underestimated, although it should not be. Unpaid work can not only make a person as an individual feel as though they are part of something special but provide valuable input into society in general. Society as we know it would not exist without unpaid work or

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