House debates

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Constituency Statements

Hindmarsh Electorate: Volunteer Awards

4:10 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week I'm sure all members of this parliament took part in some celebration or another for National Volunteer Week, which is a great opportunity for us to provide our thanks as a community for the love, energy and time that literally millions of Australians adults give every week to myriad organisations that keep our society running and that we're lucky to have here in this country. We have one of the highest rates of volunteering in the developed world—about one in three Australian adults typically give some time in a volunteer capacity to sporting organisations, service support organisations, local history clubs, schools and so many other different organisations. We know that COVID has had a substantial impact on volunteering rates. From a high of around 36 per cent of the adult population volunteering pre-COVID, we're now down to below 30 per cent. The data we do have shows that there has been only a very slow, partial recovery. That is impacting on all the organisations that give their time, love and energy to looking after our society and, often, the most vulnerable, so it's something we in this place have to pay attention.

Every year that I've had the fortune to be member for Port Adelaide and then member for Hindmarsh, I've held award ceremonies during National Volunteer Week, and I had the great pleasure of doing that again last Friday. We asked for nominations from local organisations in our electorate, and we've always receive dozens of nominations. It's such a terrific opportunity to see both the diversity of clubs and organisations doing good work in our community and also the diversity of volunteers. Of the 40 awards we gave, six were for local legends, and that in and of itself really illustrated the spread of volunteers in the electorate of Hindmarsh. We had Dennis Brien, who has been involved in the West Torrens District Cricket Club in one capacity or another for 69 years—playing, coaching, working as an official, fundraising, and mentoring younger players and officials—and he was justly rewarded and recognised as a local legend.

At the other end of the age spectrum is a terrific young woman, Shanna McGrath. Shana was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at six. She signed up to the JDRF advocacy program, with which we in this place would all be familiar, at the ripe age of 10, and has worked assiduously since that time—a decade and a half—providing advocacy and mentoring to younger advocates to improvement the lot of people with type 1 diabetes. I met her first in 2011 when she was a teenager. I nominated her to be an emcee for the Kids in the House event that we used to have in this building, and she emceed terrifically. She has provided terrific leadership to that organisation since, and was justly rewarded recognised as a local legend.