From the Newsroom

The Yamba Rotary Club would love to welcome more volunteers in 2024. Image: contributed

Volunteering has something for everyone

National Volunteer Week will run from May 20-26.

The largest annual celebration of volunteering in the country, the event highlights the many remarkable and selfless contributions made by various community members throughout Australia each year.

CEO of Volunteering Australia Mark Pearce said the theme of National Volunteer Week in 2024 ‘Something for Everyone’, shines a light on the abundance of new opportunities available for people to participate in and to help instigate contributions towards making positive changes through voluntary roles.

“There is a diverse array of opportunities for Australians to volunteer within their community alongside something they’re already passionate about,” he explained.

“Getting involved in volunteering can be as simple as sharing your expertise and interests, helping out in your local community, or drawing on your previous experiences to support others. “There really is a volunteer role for everyone.” 

Along with boosting mental health, self-esteem, and self-confidence, volunteering also helps to combat loneliness while providing people with a social platform to help them feel more connected with and involved in their local community.

Volunteering also enables people to learn and further develop their skills within areas of interest to them, and it can also open up pathways to employment while allowing individuals to effect positive and meaningful change.

President of the Yamba Rotary Club John McKenny has been associated with the local organisation and other community service groups including Apex and the Lions Club for close to 40 years.

Describing the work, which involves assisting residents in need during emergency situations, organising sponsorship programs, and participating in local projects as extremely rewarding, Mr McKenny said volunteering within your local community is a great way to make new friends, meet like-minded people, and give something back to people in need.

“The Clarence Valley community, like many other communities, relies on volunteers,” he said.

“If we don’t have the support of volunteers, and without their contributions, many local organisations like the Yamba Rotary Club are facing uncertain futures.

“We need volunteers.”

In a statement released by Volunteering Australia earlier this month, it was revealed there is a growing demand for volunteers nationally.

Amidst the challenging economic climate and the cost-of-living crisis, volunteers are vital in supporting their local communities.

A new report from Volunteering Australia also featured the latest national volunteering data, providing insights into how volunteering is changing.

Unmet demand for volunteers in sectors traditionally supported by the volunteering community has increased due to the ongoing impacts of the cost-of-living crisis with many people finding it difficult to prioritise volunteering, or afford the potential costs associated with it such as transport and/or fuel.

While formal volunteering, where people volunteer through organisations, has gradually declined over the past 10 years it is still highest among people aged between 40 and 54.

Informal volunteering, where people volunteer directly in the community, is significantly more common among people aged between 25 and 39, and rates of online, or remote volunteering, has continued to grow in recent years.

The latest data also reveals the proportion of people in Australia engaging in online volunteering has increased by 21 percent, highlighting the adaptability of volunteers in embracing new modes of engagement.

“We have every reason to be optimistic despite the challenges being faced,” Mr Pearce said. “We know volunteering helps people to maintain social connections and gives them a powerful sense of purpose.

“In coming together to create a thriving and effective volunteering ecosystem, volunteers are maintaining social cohesion and helping others who are struggling.

“With the National Strategy for Volunteering as a guiding framework, we are charting a course for a future where volunteering is at the heart of Australian communities.”