House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Constituency Statements

Greenway Electorate: International Volunteer Day

10:25 am

Photo of Michelle RowlandMichelle Rowland (Greenway, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Communications) Share this | | Hansard source

This Saturday marks International Volunteer Day, and I rise to celebrate and recognise the outstanding contribution and spirit of volunteerism in my electorate of Greenway. There is no area of my local community, and indeed of our national way of life, that has not been strengthened by everyday Australians willing to donate their time and energy for the benefit of others. Through countless acts of compassion, charity and dedication, volunteers exemplify the values we as a society cherish. The number of Australians who volunteer their time and skills has now exceeded 6 million, well over a quarter of our entire population, and they contribute over $200 billion to the Australian economy annually. Yet the true measure of their contribution can be seen each and every day through the energy they impart into the very fabric of our community, the real and lasting impact their selfless deeds have on the people of this life they have touched and whose burdens they have lifted.

Today I would like to highlight just a few people who demonstrate the kind of volunteerism in Greenway that our residents are providing across our community, such as Ms Deborah Martin from Toongabbie, who every day for more than six years has voluntarily cared for injured wildlife from across Western Sydney; Ms Savannah Zwerus from Quakers Hill, who at just 21 years of age took it upon herself to make time to combat the debilitating effects of social isolation and helped visually impaired teens go out and enjoy social events they would otherwise not have been able to attend; and Ms Biddy O'Malley, an amazing woman and a great character who this year once again volunteered at St Anthony's Primary Girraween Annual Spring Fair, just as she has done for the past 46 years—her scones have been my downfall.

The spirit of volunteerism in Greenway is not confined just to our borders. Take the Blacktown City Lions Club, who donate through their Feed the Children Program, who have helped nourish children devastated by natural disasters overseas and who truly embody their 'We Serve' motto every day. Volunteers like Geoff and Cherie Harrison and Paul and Rissa McInnes give so much of their time, as do as many other members of their strong team. Through the Australian Volunteers for International Development program Ms Anne Gan of Stanhope Gardens went to the Philippines and selflessly dedicated her time and energy to their Red Cross.

Too often we hear of great cynicism about our society, yet day in day out volunteers throughout Australia, with little fanfare and even fewer resources, stand united to foster stronger communities, build bridges among people and set a powerful example of leadership and compassion, irrespective of ethnicity, colour or creed. As we celebrate International Volunteer Day, let us all therefore recognise and celebrate this quintessential Australian ethos. May we each strive to make that kind of difference in our own lives and may volunteers continue to set a powerful moral example for years to come.