The valuable contribution local volunteers make was acknowledged and celebrated in state parliament last month as National Volunteer Week 2021 was recognised across the country from May 17-23.
Light MP Tony Piccolo delivered a speech acknowledging the significant economic and social contribution volunteers make to their local communities.
Mr Piccolo said it had been estimated, from an economic viewpoint, that volunteers make a $46 billion contribution to Australia’s economy.
“While that is important, I think some of the greater work that volunteers do is the social aspect of their work, connecting people and helping people to be connected,” Mr Piccolo said.
“We just have to look back over the last 12 months, when the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that more people have been isolated because of restrictions in movement.
“It is the work of volunteers over the past years and decades that has helped connect people.”
Mr Piccolo said an important example of this was the global organisation, Meals on Wheels, who deliver food to people who, for whatever reason, are not able to care for themselves.
“The reality is that for a lot of people who make contact with the Meals on Wheels person at their door on a weekly or twice-weekly basis or whatever is the case, may be the only contact they have with their community,” he said.
“That is sad, but also important to note. “Volunteers do a lot of work connecting communities and preventing people from being isolated.”
Mr Piccolo shared in state parliament there is not an area of the community that is not touched by the hand of volunteers, whether it is aged care, disability support, emergency services, the arts, education, sport, environment, health, tourism, and general community wellbeing.
“The importance of volunteering is that they pick up where both governments and the market fail,” he said.
“They fill the gaps in our communities where both governments and free market enterprise do not deliver.”
Mr Piccolo also paid tribute to volunteers in his electorate office who help him provide a very extensive JP service while others do a range of tasks that help him to better serve the community.
Mr Piccolo warned that without proper support many community organisations would not have as many volunteers as they did prior to COVID-19.
“Some research has shown that up to two-thirds of volunteers no longer volunteer as a result of COVID-19,” Mr Piccolo explained.
“It is so important that we as a community and government help support the volunteer effort and work out what we need to do now to make sure we get those volunteer numbers up.
“Our communities need our volunteers. Thank you to all our volunteers.”