National Volunteer Week

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (12:10): I, too, rise today in support of this motion moved by the member for Hurtle Vale, and thank her for doing so. The motion:

(a) recognises National Volunteer Week 2019 from 20 to 26 May;

(b) acknowledges the valuable contribution that volunteers make to the economic and social wellbeing of local communities; and

(c) calls upon all South Australians to thank and show their appreciation to all volunteers in our community.

I would also like to acknowledge the volunteers that we have here in the chamber today and thank them for the wonderful work they do right across our state. I was fortunate to speak on behalf of the Hon. Michelle Lensink from the other place at the launch of National Volunteer Week in 2019 last month in Victoria Square. There was the parade and the walk. The member for Hurtle Vale and the Leader of the Opposition joined me on this occasion and it was wonderful to be there representing the government. Adelaide, of course, is the only city in Australia that blocks off its streets in the CBD for a parade like this and only Adelaide and South Australia could do such a thing. We truly value our volunteers and, in true traditional South Australian fashion, a parade is a great way to celebrate that.

The theme of National Volunteer Week in 2019 was 'Making a world of difference', and I must say that that is exactly what the volunteers in South Australia do. I would like to commend Volunteering SA and all the team behind the event for doing such an outstanding job. South Australia is fortunate to be home to so many volunteers who donate their precious time to the community to make it a better place, both within the city and in the regions as well.

We had almost one million people volunteer in South Australia last year. Together, they gave 1.7 million hours, which is the equivalent of 107,400 full-time jobs, which is worth about $5 billion to our economy. As a government of whatever persuasion, there is only one thing you can say to that and that is thank you. Thank you for the service you give back to our community to make it a better place. It really is quite an amazing figure.

Volunteering is an integral way in which our communities operate, fostering community cohesion and supporting so many of the vital services that our communities rely on. I was lucky enough to grow up in the regions and I know that was something that was instilled in me from my upbringing in the country communities that I was a part of. To come to the city and give back where I have in my adult life, and to see what the cities do as well, is truly amazing.

I am very proud to be part of a government that is making it easier for people to give back to their community, too. The Marshall Liberal government—and this is a really key point—has abolished volunteer screening fees. This is a really great policy that I am so proud of. I brought this up at National Volunteer Week and whenever I have gone around the community I have made the point that it is a way that we can say thank you and acknowledge the great work our volunteers do.

To remove those screening fees is just a little way to give back for some of those figures I was mentioning before. It will hopefully encourage the next generation of volunteers and keep the current ones going and involved in their community as well. It is a small thing, but it has been truly appreciated by volunteers and I am very proud that our government initiated this for South Australians. The government has also committed to extending funding for the WeDo app, which connects volunteers to organisations that are advertising their volunteer positions. It is a great modern way to connect people to make sure that they can give back and see people who are in need of volunteers.

In my portfolio area of emergency services, I have been immensely proud of the success of the CFS's Project Renew. It has been $5 million over two years, giving back to our volunteers. When I go out into the regions and visit our CFS brigades and see how their facilities have been left to run down, it is almost shameful in a way to see that they have not had this money reinvested into their facilities. To be able to go into communities and around the regions and say thank you to the volunteers who are putting their lives on the line, fighting fires and doing rescue operations in our local communities, and to give a little bit back is truly amazing.

The other week I was in Laura and Burra in the Mid North speaking to volunteers. It is amazing when you go there that these people do not want much. They are not saying, 'We need to rebuild this and rebuild that and have a new this and have a new that.' They are saying to us, 'Look, that little bit of money you are giving us means we can put new sheets of iron on top of our shed. The shed doesn't need air conditioning. We are not looking for anything like that. We can put some new sheets of iron on the shed to stop the leaks and we can refurb our kitchen because it has been left to deteriorate.'

They are so grateful, but again I stress the point that we are grateful to them for the work that they do. Likewise with the SES, and I know within the MFS and SAPOL as well, whilst they are paid organisations, the culture built within those organisations is invariably that they give back to a lot of other volunteer organisations.

We have also delivered $420,000 in a commitment from the Marshall Liberal government to our surf lifesaving organisations. They do an outstanding job in our community saving lives on the beaches over the summer. When you go to any of the surf clubs it is such a great family atmosphere. I have a couple in my electorate at Brighton, Somerton Park and stretching down to Seacliff as well. It is great to see the family and culture being instilled in people.

Right from an early age, they learn how the volunteering culture works, and it goes right through to some senior figures in the clubs who are still there giving back. I think it is a wonderful culture. Again, to give back some funds to help them do the wonderful work they do is truly outstanding. Over the course of the next four years, every surf club will get $5,000 to help with equipment and to make sure that they can keep doing the outstanding job they do. Their clubs, and the redevelopment of their clubs, have been a substantial project as well. Again, they create a social hub, a community hub, as do a lot of volunteering organisations.

We have already heard about what volunteers do over and above their immediate volunteering. A volunteering organisation does the task at hand, be it a surf lifesaving club, a CFS organisation, a sporting club, a Rotary club or a Lions club; I have many of those wonderful organisations in my community and I take a moment to thank them for what they do. I will not mention them all by name right now because there are too many to thank, but they do an outstanding job with the projects they do.

Over and above that, the real importance that is emerging more and more these days is the social inclusion they give. A lot of people across all ages are now getting online. You can now do so many things with your computer online, and people perhaps are not engaging socially as much as they once did, but volunteering organisations give people the opportunity to do that. That is a wonderful thing that volunteers and volunteer groups do over and above their immediate tasks. Of course, it is a pathway to employment and also people just generally like to help out in their community, so I thank very much for that.

I mention my portfolios in particular because police, emergency services, even Correctional Services and sport rec and racing are full of volunteers. These people give so many hours back to the community and do an absolutely outstanding job. The efforts of all volunteers are truly commendable and must be acknowledged. Over the course of the 2018-19 fire danger season, our CFS volunteers donated around 500,000 hours of their time to keep our state safe. It sometimes goes a little bit unnoticed in the cities. City folk do not notice that as much but, on the peri-urban edges of our city and, in particular into the regions, when you go out and meet the people who do this work, again to say thank you, you do notice how valued this work is.

I stress this point again. I was at a CFS group the other day whose facility is literally a tin shed across the road from a pub; unfortunately, this community is losing a few people and the pub is not open full-time anymore. When they first set up the shed, again with their graciousness and their gratefulness they said, 'We don't need a toilet in our facility. It is an extra cost and we don't need it. We can just go with a shed and, if we can park our truck in the shed, that's all we need,' and their shed was upgraded. They said, 'We can just go over to the pub and use the facilities over there.' That pub is not open full-time anymore so they do have a need. They are trying to attract more members and, in particular, trying to bring in more women.

Rightly they say, 'We can't bring people to this facility, especially women, without having a toilet.' It was a pleasure to be there and also to offer some money to upgrade it. Within our sporting clubs, too, we want to get more people active and volunteers, coaching volunteers, administrators, team managers and first-aid people are so important, so a big thankyou to all those people right across the board.

We know that our $100 sports voucher is getting more primary school kids active and into sporting clubs, and that means our volunteers are doing more work. When I go to my local clubs, they are forever grateful. They love the extra work because it means more people are getting active and getting involved in their passion. These volunteers then are showing the way and leading the way.

Again, I commend the motion to the house. I thank all our volunteers right across the state for the wonderful work they do. I know on this side of the house in particular through the city and the regions we thank them so much. We cannot repay them dollar for dollar, but we can take every opportunity to thank them for the great work they do. Again, I commend the motion to the house.

Authorised by Corey Wingard MP, Member for Gibson. Level 2, 1 Milham Street Oaklands Park SA 5046. ©Copyright / Legal / Login