Give a little, change a lot

Article image - Give a little, change a lot A volunteer firefighter mops up. Photo by Laurie Benson, Albany Advertiser

Volunteer fire fighting resources within Western Australia’s Great Southern Region were stretched beyond capacity at 6.30pm on 24 May 2018. City of Albany alone had crews responding to 27 bush fires across the district.

“Volunteers enable a higher level of service.”
More than 700 volunteer fire fighters help keep the community safe, while up to 250 volunteers support other services within the City of Albany.

Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Sharpe said that the great work of volunteers enabled the City of Albany to provide a higher level of service to the community.

“Volunteers epitomise the essence of community spirit and rain, hail or shine they donate their time to help in many ways and we thank them for their dedication and commitment to our community,” Mr Sharpe said.

National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution made by volunteers to their community.

This year some councils have gone beyond the usual morning teas and certificates of appreciation, acknowledging that many services offered by council could not exist without the efforts of volunteers.

Volunteering strategy: a long term view
The theme for Volunteer Week 2018, 21-27 May, ‘Give a Little, Change a Lot’ recognises research highlighting that volunteers live happier and healthier lives.

Hobsons Bay City Council, Victoria, has used the event to launch the City’s first Volunteering Strategy.

The 2016 Census identified over 12,000 volunteers in Hobsons Bay, a 26 percent increase since the previous Census.

Mayor Angela Altair said, “We’ve been working closely with volunteers across the city to put this plan together - our aim is to make sure people who love to volunteer can continue to do so.

“That’s why the Volunteering Strategy takes a longer term view and will guide us to plan ahead, to look at what resources we provide and how volunteering will run in Hobsons Bay.”

Councillor, Sandra Wilson, said Council not only funds and partners with volunteering organisations, it also manages volunteering programs in its own right.

“Council currently manages more than 200 volunteers.
“Volunteers are the backbone of important community programs such as our Meals on Wheels service, Planned Activity Groups, Council’s Library Service, Visitor Information Centre, Youth Services, Community Hubs and Centres and our Conservation Team’s Friends group network.

“The contribution of time, knowledge and skills that these - and all volunteers - bring to the quality of life in our city is immeasurable.”
Queensland’s Noosa Council, Community Development Manager, Alison Hamblin, says that many people may not realise the amount of work local volunteers do.

“We have over 300 community groups in our shire.”
In celebration Council teamed up with local film-maker Klaus Horner to make six short films showcasing a selection of Noosa’s unique volunteer groups which can be viewed on Council’s website.

Allow councils to deliver key services
City of Mount Gambier, South Australia, Mayor, Andrew Lee said hundreds of volunteer organisations including service clubs and community groups work together with Council throughout the year to deliver events and sustainability activities and beautify public spaces.
The mayor added that it was also important to recognise the individuals who informally volunteer.

“From the sporting, cultural and service clubs to the emergency volunteers and non-government organisations, each of which provide invaluable contributions to Mount Gambier as a resilient and robust City.”

Gannawarra Shire Council, Victoria, has over 350 community members who volunteer their time and there are many more in the community who contribute to the programs, services, activities and events that occur across the municipality.

Mayor Brian Gibson said volunteers allow Council and the community to deliver key services and contribute to the positive way of life in Gannawarra.

“Without the hard work and commitment of volunteers, many of Council’s services could not operate.”

Councils help volunteers
Fraser Coast Council, Queensland, recently installed 15Kva generators in Poona and Bauple.

Disaster Management Portfolio, Councillor Rolf Light, said, “The generators will help the local Community Co-ordination Committees in an emergency.

“The committees were started in response to a series of wet years and floods which hit the region and comprise of community volunteers.

“The committees play a vital role in our communities and Council supports them with equipment and training to ensure their communities are resilient so they can recover quickly after a natural disaster.

“Some of our smaller communities can be isolated for extended periods during heavy rain and floods, so the generators will ensure the committees and community halls will still be an effective rallying point during an emergency.”

West Coast Council, Tasmania, Mayor Phil Vickers said this year Council launched a Facebook group called ‘West Coast Volunteers’ as a central place to connect and share ideas, to share information about upcoming events, to reach out to potential volunteers, and to let the wider community know about the varied and vibrant volunteer landscape on the West Coast.

City of Maribyrnong, Victoria, recognises that active participation in civic life builds more resilient communities and that volunteerism is an important part of the social fabric of Australian society.
Because of this, Council endorsed a Volunteer Strategy coinciding with Volunteer Week.

The purpose of the Strategy is to build a resilient social infrastructure that empowers the community and supports a sustainable and flourishing volunteer sector.

Burdekin Shire Council teamed up with the Queensland Government to deliver a Building Active Communities workshop in Ayr.
Mayor Lyn McLaughlin said the free workshop was to support sport and recreation volunteers and volunteer managers by equippingthem with new skills and knowledge.

“Volunteers are one of the most vital assets of any club or organisation and looking after them is a priority.”