Monday, 24 June 2013
Longman Electorate: Volunteers
I rise today to inform the House of a great project I launched last week to benefit volunteerism in my local community. It is called Do Something Near You! We all know what a huge contribution volunteers make. They are the backbone of our community welfare organisations and sporting clubs, pouring boundless energy into caring, preparing and serving food, fundraising, logistics, coaching, educating and administrating. In Australia our volunteer rates compare favourably against other nations, with more than a third of the adult population involved. But, obviously, that still leaves a lot of room for improvement.
While most people will tell you that they have thought about volunteering, busy lives mean they never quite get around to it—and that is the beauty of this simple and inspiring idea. With Do Something Near You! helpers are now only a click away from putting their skills and experience to good use. Put simply, Do Something Near You! is an online roll of community groups in 565 regions around Australia with an emphasis on links that invite participants or volunteers. Just typing in a postcode reveals the latest range of organisations, events and activities in that area. Volunteers can sign up for their local SES or Rural Fire Service, donate blood to the Red Cross, assist the RSPCA, join their local Rotary or Lions club or help out with a myriad of other programs and projects. The concept is the brainchild of not-for-profit social and environmental change group Do Something!, whose creators include Planet Ark founders Jon Dee and Pat Cash.
As a pivotal way of showing my support and getting this breakthrough in online volunteering to speak directly to community groups and potential volunteers in my electorate of Longman, I have launched a Do Something Near You! portal on my website through which locals can gain even quicker and easier access to the listings they need. I am privileged to be the first Queensland MP to take up a personalised version of Do Something Near You! Research shows that volunteers enjoy an increased sense of community belonging and, often, a lift in their physical and mental health. The economic impact of Australia's volunteer workforce is not inconsiderable, being estimated at $18 billion a year. While many national organisations are already part of Do Something Near You!, the ultimate goal is to have every local community group, including those in the electorate of Longman, list themselves for free on the site. I am very excited to be involved in Do Something Near You!