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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 301

International Development Assistance: Volunteers

Senator FAWCETT (South AustraliaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator Fierravanti-Wells. Can the minister advise the Senate of the contribution that Australian volunteers make to the stability and prosperity of our region?

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (New South WalesMinister for International Development and the Pacific) (14:47): I thank Senator Fawcett for his question. Since the 1960s, 13,000 Australians have volunteered their time, their energy, their expertise and their passion in about 42 developing nations in our region and beyond. The Turnbull government recognises the vital role that Australian volunteers play today and have played over many years, not just in our region but beyond. In 2015-16, 1,345 Australians gave their time, their energy and their expertise in 29 different countries, not just in the Indo-Pacific but right across the world. That is helping governments in civil society, in education, in health and in a whole range of different areas to contribute to the economic growth of those countries, in turn to contribute to the prosperity of those countries and, of course, to contribute to the prosperity and security of our region.

Everywhere I go, I have the opportunity, and indeed the privilege, to meet many of our volunteers. What is really interesting is that they come from all different ages—some are young and some are retired—and they do all sorts of different things. Their expertise is in a whole range of different areas. It could be, for example, lending support to the legal system or helping, particularly in the Pacific, in the prosthesis area, there being a massive problem with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. These volunteers are the public face of Australia. They are ambassadors for Australia and they are doing an absolutely marvellous job. As I said, they range from speech pathologists right through to those in different industries, but they are all making a wonderful contribution.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Fawcett, a supplementary question.