Celebrating Volunteers

I want to thank the member for Parramatta for bringing this important motion—not necessarily for everything that she said, but I don’t think that would come as any great surprise to the member for Parramatta. But the underlying philosophy of her motion is a very important one, and that is: where would we be without our volunteers in this country?

Recently we celebrated National Volunteer Week, and on 17 May 2021 I had about 50 representatives of various volunteer groups come to the deck just below my office on Lake Kawana. If you get a chance, Mr Deputy Speaker, come to this spot. It’s an absolute paradise in the best electorate in the country. I told those volunteers that today there are six million volunteers working in Australia and they volunteer about 600 million hours each year. I did some very quick back-of-the-envelope maths. Calculating on an average of about $80 an hour for wages and on costs, it’s a $48 billion saving to governments. That’s $48 billion that we as taxpayers don’t need to pay, all because of the generosity of some six million Australians. Locally on the Sunshine Coast, we’ve got about 26,000 volunteers working in 131 volunteer organisations.

For anybody who is not a volunteer, I want to send out this challenge to you: volunteer, whether it’s in a surf lifesaving club or in a croquet club. It doesn’t matter what it is. Do it not just for the community in which you work but because you will get benefits yourself—the benefits you obtain by volunteering, the act of providing services without getting a financial reward. It’s the warm and fuzzy benefit. You do get that warm and fuzzy feeling. It’s good for your mental health to feel that you are part of something much bigger than yourself. I’ve been involved in many different community organisations. I joined my first organisation as a volunteer when I was 14, and I’ve been a volunteer ever since, and I know that many people in this place would be the same.

I want to thank the volunteers of Fisher. I want to thank all the volunteers of this country, who give up so much of their time. Not only are they doing that for the benefit of their community but their federal government is absolutely working alongside them, and we do that by providing various grants. I want to just spend a couple of moments talking about some of the programs that we run.

Since 2016, 60 grants under the Stronger Communities Program have been provided to organisations in my electorate, totalling some $1.1 million. This includes $9,000 for the Met-Cal Surf Life Saving Club for a new patrol trailer and $13,775 for the RoboCoast Sunshine Coast Robotics Association, an absolutely amazing organisation led by volunteers who teach kids how to build robots. Then they compete against each other, and schools from every state come together on the Sunshine Coast and have these amazing robot competitions. To see these kids, some in their primary school years, actually making robots is really quite amazing. There is $13,500 for Montville Village Association for the construction of a covered deck and the upgrade of disability access to the heritage listed Montville Village Hall. Since 2016, 70 volunteer grants of up to $5,000 have helped with things like fuel, training and equipment costs. There is $5,000 for the Maleny Light Horse regiment, who were at the Maleny Show just a couple of days ago. There is $4,740 for Bamboo Projects Education for Mooloolaba volunteers. There is $4,990 for the Caloundra Committee of Service to the Ageing.

We all have stories about how the government’s grants programs have helped volunteers. Every single member in this place, from across the country, has benefited from it, and when I say that I mean the community has benefited from it. This government will continue to work for volunteers and work with them.