Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

International Volunteer Day – Celebrating Tasmania’s volunteers

The Parliamentary Secretary for Community Services, Julie Collins MP, has marked International Volunteer Day by celebrating the important contribution of volunteers in Tasmania.

“Volunteers play a pivotal role in keeping community organisations running and making a real difference to the lives of others,” Ms Collins said.

“The Gillard Government values the enormous contribution volunteers make to their local communities each and every year.”

In recognition of the day, Ms Collins visited Hobart’s Calvary Health Care, where volunteers help provide relief and comfort to patients.

More than 5.2 million Australians volunteer their time and skills – more than 131,000 of these volunteers are Tasmanian.

“For many volunteers, volunteering is a way to connect with the people around them. It is integral to the way our communities operate and volunteering also fosters social inclusion and supports wellbeing,” Ms Collins said.

The Gillard Government is also working to strengthen the not-for-profit sector by delivering smarter regulation, reduced red-tape and improved transparency.

This includes the establishment of a new Office for the not-for-profit sector that is leading the development of the first ever National Volunteering Strategy, which will be released in 2011.

The Government will also continue to support the Volunteer Grants Program for volunteering initiatives.

Under the Volunteer Grants Program, funding of $21 million was available in 2010-11 to assist not-for-profit community organisations to assist their volunteers and encourage volunteering.

Across Tasmania, the Gillard Government’s Volunteer Grants delivered more than $540,000 to assist around 4600 volunteers at more than 150 community organisations across the state.

These grants of between $1000 and $5000 assist groups to purchase equipment and can contribute toward fuel expenses incurred during volunteering.

“Volunteers are the backbone of so many of our not-for-profit organisations and they make a real and lasting difference in the lives of people in our community,” Ms Collins said.