11 May 2023

Insight from: Robbie Sefton

Baking a cake for the school fete, becoming a member of the local CWA or RFS branch, cooking the barbecue at the annual campdraft or manning the counter at the nearest op shop – volunteering comes in a myriad of forms and means many things to many people.

But the one indisputable fact is that our communities could not exist without volunteers, and even if they could, they’d be very different places to live.

For rural and regional communities in particular, where populations are smaller and services may be in more scarce supply, volunteerism is vital for a range of fundraising activities, local organisations and associations, key events and activities on the community calendar, our schools, our hospitals, support services – the list goes on.

The contribution by those who put up their hand to lend a hand cannot be overstated, and much of what we may take for granted in our neighbourhoods would not be possible without them.

From May 15 to 21, volunteers will be celebrated during the annual National Volunteers Week, a way to say thank you to the millions of Australians who take time out of their own busy lives to help others.

But it’s also an important opportunity to take stock of our own time and commitments and if we are yet to volunteer, then consider reaching out to a local group that may be in need of assistance. We hear all too often of activities, or events or local associations having to cease because of a lack of manpower on the ground.

On the flip side though, there are those inspiring stories of local people stepping in to save something that would otherwise have been lost, proving “people power” and a collective will are still a force to be reckoned with when the chips are down.

The significance of this has been recognised by a federal government-backed initiative titled the National Strategy for Volunteering 2023-2033, presenting a “collective vision for a future where volunteering is at the heart of Australian communities”.

And not only does it make sense from a social perspective, volunteerism presents a strong financial case when you consider, according to Volunteering Australia, that 31 per cent of the population volunteer in some way, “making an estimated annual contribution of $290 billion to the nation’s economic and social good”.

Imagine if we could increase that to even 50pc or 75pc? What would that do for our communities and the people who call them home?

So, this National Volunteers Week, if you’re not one of our amazing volunteers already, make it a goal to look around your community and see where even an hour or a few hours of your time each week could make a difference.

As many have noted before, you may think it’s just a drop in the ocean, but the ripple effect could be profound.

To read this article in The Land newspaper, visit National Volunteers Week, May 15 to 21: how can you help make a change for the better? | The Land | NSW