Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 08, 2023



International Volunteer Day

Adjourned debate on motion of Hon. J.S. Lee:

That this council—

1. Notes that 5 December is International Volunteer Day;

2. Recognises the tireless work of volunteers across South Australia; and

3. Encourages all South Australians to thank our volunteers and show their appreciation for the contributions volunteers make to our state.

(Continued from 30 November 2022.)

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (17:26): I rise today to retrospectively celebrate International Volunteer Day, which was 5 December 2022. This day represents a special opportunity for us to reflect on the impact of the work of volunteers and recognise the tremendous contributions volunteers make to our communities.

In South Australia, volunteering is a critical part of our social fabric and an integral part of our daily lives. Volunteers play a crucial role in helping us address many of the challenges facing our communities, from social issues such as domestic violence, mental health issues, homelessness, poverty and inequality, to environmental problems such as water and land pollution and natural disasters. Volunteers also help run sporting clubs and programs, community-based centres that provide cooking classes or language lessons, and programs that reach out and connect people with their community through community gardens and libraries.

There are thousands of volunteers right here in South Australia. There are volunteer-based cultural community groups that celebrate their culture and ensure that the rich multicultural fabric of our community thrives. There are thousands of programs and volunteers across this amazing state. The one thing they all have in common is that they are all driven to make a positive contribution to their community.

Volunteers bring a wealth of skills, knowledge and experience to their work, and their contributions are invaluable. If we were to measure their financial contribution, we would be astounded at the economic value of their service. It is not something that we as a parliament could even aspire to fund. We need volunteers to work hand in hand with government-funded programs to provide support and in some cases provide the only avenue to reach out to those who are in need, providing support to those who are struggling and bringing hope to those who are feeling hopeless.

Volunteers are often those who inspire the next generation of athletes, create greener spaces and teach us how to value, respect and preserve our natural resources. Volunteers patrol our beaches in summers and provide first aid. They teach us the importance of history and respecting our veterans. Volunteers are the heroes of our community. What they are doing saves lives and puts a smile on people's faces. What volunteers do really does matter.

Volunteers work tirelessly, often in the face of great adversity, to make a real difference in people's lives. Whilst volunteers do not do what they do out of self-interest, volunteering has a positive impact on the volunteers themselves. It helps individuals to build new skills, expand their horizons and make meaningful connections with others. It provides an opportunity to give back to the community, to make a difference, to feel valued and to be appreciated.

Volunteers are the heart and soul of our communities. They bring people together, create new connections and foster a sense of belonging. They help us to build a more resilient, compassionate and sustainable future. It is my honour to stand in this chamber and sincerely thank all the volunteers in South Australia for their hard work and dedication. Their contributions are truly making a difference in our communities, and we are very grateful for all that they do. International Volunteer Day gives us the opportunity to celebrate those efforts and recognise the importance of volunteers working and creating a better world for us all. If it were up to me, I would make every day International Volunteer Day.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. I.K. Hunter.