Representatives of dozens of Sunshine Coast volunteer organisations gathered this morning to mark the beginning of National Volunteers Week at a reception on the shores of Lake Kawana, organised by Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace. The theme of this National Volunteers Week is recognise, reconnect and reimagine.
Mr Wallace said that with the high levels of need over the last twelve months, and the restrictions imposed by COVID-19, many volunteers have not had the opportunity to get together in 2021.
“Over the past year, more than 6 million volunteers across Australia have committed more than 600 million to helping others who are in need. This volunteer week I wanted to give volunteers in our community the opportunity to reconnect, to recognise the enormous contribution they have made over the past twelve months, and to look ahead to what more we can all do together in the year to come.” Mr Wallace said.
The 2021/22 Federal Budget, announced last week included an additional $250 million for a sixth round of the successful Building Better Regions Fund, as well as $28.2 million to extend the Stronger Communities Programme, which provides grants of between $2,500 and $20,000 across the country to community organisations for small capital projects that deliver social benefits for local communities.
“Since my election in 2016, we have been able to secure 60 separate grants under the Stronger Communities Programme for local volunteers, totalling more than $1.1 million. We have also seen 70 separate Volunteer grants of up to $5,000 to help with fuel, training and equipment costs. This year we already have another $132,450 is available as part of the 2021 Volunteer Grants round and more to come from this latest Federal Budget. If you are part of a volunteer organisation in Fisher, I encourage you to get in touch with me today and let me know about the new equipment you need to make a difference in 2021.” he said.
The Federal Budget also included record investment in health, education and aged care, including $17.7 billion for more and better home and residential care. The Budget allocated further funding to critical social challenges, including $3.4 billion to women’s safety and wellbeing, $2.3 billion toward the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan and $3.3 billion in greater support for childcare.
“These unprecedented investments in improving the lives of vulnerable Australians are going to take significant pressure off our volunteers groups, who have been working harder than ever while we tackled the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I know they won’t stop there, and that’s why I want to take this opportunity today to speak to local volunteers about what is next for them in our region, and how the Government can support them in taking on new challenges.” he said.
National Volunteers Week is an initiative of Volunteering Australia and is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers. Alongside calling on Australians to recognise, reconnect and reimagine, this year Volunteering Australia is encouraging all of us to Wave our Appreciation for volunteers.
“I could not be more grateful for the huge efforts put in by volunteers across the Sunshine Coast during this COVID-19 pandemic, and I hope today’s reception can be my small way of showing my appreciation this year!” Mr Wallace said.
For more information on National Volunteers Week visit https://www.volunteeringaustralia.org/get-involved/nvw/. For more information about the Federal Budget, visit www.budget.gov.au.