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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4428

Mr ANDREWS (Menzies) (09:53): I too rise to mark National Volunteer Week, which is occurring throughout Australia these days.

I was privileged to be at the launch of National Volunteer Week on Monday with the Minister for Social Services and also the CEO of Volunteering Australia, Adrienne Picone. This recognises the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Australians, who in one way or another volunteer their services in a range of community organisations. We pay tribute to them in this place and elsewhere in the country this week.

This morning in my electorate at MannaCare—an aged care, community care, respite care and day care centre service, conducted by the local council—there was a service breakfast to recognise many volunteers. I was delighted to provide certificates to the volunteers who were attending that function this morning. On Friday, I will attend another function in my electorate, arranged by Doncare, which is the major welfare organisation in the Menzies electorate. That, again, will be an opportunity to recognise hundreds of volunteers who give so much of their valuable time to others in our community. On Australia Day each year, it has been an opportunity for me, for many years now, to recognise so many people in our community—most of them volunteers—who do so much to build the fabric of the society in which we live.

This brings me to what I essentially believe is the basic principle here: what matters most about society happens in that space between the individual and the state. That is the space which is occupied by families, communities, civic and religious groups, institutions and the private economy. Creating, sustaining and protecting that space and helping all of who are part of it to continue to do that work which they do is part of the foremost purposes of government in this country. Rather than viewing these institutions, organisations and agencies, et cetera, with suspicion, we must treat them as critical to the society in which we live functioning well. It should never be the role of government to usurp their functions, but it should allow them to freedom to operate as separate spheres of activity. Reflecting on it, it strikes me that what is one of the marks of a democracy, like the country in which we are so fortunate to live in, is that we do have these vital organisations of civic society. That is a difference between a country like Australia and other countries that are less free, less democratic and, in fact, totalitarian in their nature. Cheers to all of the volunteers in Australia, who do such a wonderful job.