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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 5044

Mr SYMON (7:45 PM) —Volunteers make a significant contribution to our community in so many different ways. Many services that our community relies upon would just not be there if it were not for volunteers, who take the time out of their busy lives to help other people. In my electorate of Deakin we have numerous organisations that are reliant upon a band of committed volunteers. Recently, as part of National Volunteer Week, I contacted each of these groups asking if I could provide volunteers with a special certificate and, where possible, I have personally handed out many of the certificates. It is important that people receive recognition for all their work; it helps for them to know how appreciated their efforts are.

When I visit local community organisations I am always so impressed with the passion and commitment shown by local volunteers, who just love what they are doing. In all, I have prepared more than 500 individual certificates for local volunteers, thanking them for all their work and recognising their importance to everyone in our community. I am very happy to be part of recognising their efforts.

On 20 May I visited the Lionsbrae aged-care facility in Ringwood East, where at a ceremony I presented certificates to 25 volunteers to personally thank them for their efforts. Volunteers at Lionsbrae perform a large range of duties, assisting people in community housing and serving meals to people in the associated soup kitchen. Volunteers facilitate a quilting program, manage the newly opened Men’s Shed, drive the bus and provide tutoring in computing, and a local schoolteacher helps residents who need assistance to continue their education. Volunteers awarded the certificates at Lionsbrae include: Pat Banner, Rose Spada, Edward Wilkinson, Colin Turpee, Lyn Milewczyk, Greg Lacey, Grant Moss, June Wells, Geraldine Joseph, Bob Donsen, Pam Myers, Barb Moss, Julie Groves, Margaret Curmi, Patricia Hird, Christine Grace, Grant Moss, Sue Breese, Dennis Kay, Pam Richards, Lesley Cooper, Margaret Downes, Bill Port, Beryl Port, Helen Maywald, Coral Boyle, Tony Christodoulou and Peter Middleton.

This is just one example of what volunteers contribute to a local organisation. Red Cross emergency first aid volunteers were active during the 2009 bushfires in Victoria helping to support those who had lost so much. Many of the local groups in my area travelled to those fire affected areas for long periods of time. Heathmont Scout Group volunteers are refurbishing a water tower and turning it into an abseiling tower for the local scouting group. Pope Road Kindergarten in Blackburn has a wonderful band of volunteers who form the committee and do all the hard, ongoing, grinding work that is needed to keep a local kinder operating. Certificates have been presented to: Rhonda Allen, Megan Kneebone, Danielle Johnson, Susan Werner, Justin Whitehead, Danny Lee, Vicki Carroll, Marissa Sprout, Nickie Scriven, Natalie Zaibak, Jo McKenzie and Justine Mansell. At Meals on Wheels, volunteers Kevin Southey and Margaret Keert have received volunteer certificates of recognition. Margaret has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels for over 30 years.

Volunteering delivers amazing local outcomes and nationally it also makes a huge impact. According to the most recent available data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2006-07 the estimated value of volunteer time was $14.6 billion. The federal government is aware of the importance of volunteering and provides volunteer grants to assist local organisations train and support volunteers. In last year’s volunteer grants round, over $160,000 was granted to local volunteer and community organisations in my electorate of Deakin. Those grants went towards purchasing small equipment such as computers, shade sails, air-conditioners and tools, as well to cover the cost of training and petrol. These grants make a huge difference to the organisations, as they provide extra resources to support the efforts of volunteers who are giving up their time.

I wish to commend the efforts of all the local volunteers not only in Deakin but right across Australia. Without their commitment, dedication and passion for what they are doing, so many people would miss out. I am glad to have been able to play my part in making sure those efforts do not go unrecognised. I congratulate the federal government on helping volunteer organisations and I look forward to the distribution of the next round of volunteer grants and seeing the impact at the local level of this investment.