Monday, 11 September 2023
Statements by Senators
Tasmania: Youth Volunteer Army
What do the local footy club, agricultural shows and charity op-shops all have in common? They all rely on volunteers to operate. We know that volunteering has been on the decline over the past five years, and it's estimated that, without action now, by 2029 there will be a 42 per cent gap between the demand for and supply of volunteers in Tasmania, and that puts our community organisations at risk. In Tassie we've already seen events cancelled not because of a lack of funding but because there was simply not enough people to run the event. We have an untapped resource in our young people, and Volunteering Tasmania is drawing on them with its Youth Volunteer Army. I hadn't heard about this program until a few weeks ago and I think it's a really great idea, so I want to tell you a little bit more about it.
The Youth Volunteer Army partners with public high schools and jobs hubs to get students engaged with community led initiatives. It helps organisations to keep running and helps students develop critical skills that will help them get into employment. Right now, 500 students have registered in the program, and they've logged 11,500 hours of volunteering—for a young one that's pretty good, I thought. Other states are wanting to get in on the great work we're doing.
The Youth Volunteer Army trial has been running since 2021 and is set to end in 2024. It's a no-brainer to keep it going. The numbers speak for themselves. This program has been a great success. I encourage the Tasmanian state government to work with Volunteering Tasmania to make sure this program can continue and to make more people aware of this amazing program.
Volunteers are the backbone of our communities. Without them our community organisations and sporting groups wouldn't be able to continue. Getting young people involved in volunteering increases their chances of employment and gets them involved in their communities, and that's a win-win for me.