Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

More Money For Volunteers: From Firefighters to Footy Coaches

Today’s International Volunteer Day gives me the opportunity to announce that the Government will provide $3 million in equipment grants to help Australia’s volunteers carry on with their vital work.

The grants of up to $5,000 for equipment will make our volunteers’ work easier, safer and more enjoyable.

There are around 4.4 million adult Australians undertaking some 430 million hours of unpaid work each year. Their work makes a tremendous economic and social contribution to our society.

Whether it’s the kids’ footie coach, mums running the school tuckshop, drivers delivering meals on wheels, or firefighters fighting bushfires – they all do a fantastic job.

The selfless spirit with which volunteers approach their unpaid work says something special about the Australian community.

The Volunteer Small Equipment Grants 2003 will have a particular focus on organisations that provide family support and strengthen local communities. They will also give the many worthy organisations that missed out last year another chance.

As part of last year’s highly successful IYV 2001 Small Grants Program, more than 5,000 organisations benefited from nearly $13 million provided by the Government.

The grants had a significant impact on the organisations. The International Year of Volunteers (IYV) evaluation that I am also releasing today shows that 96 per cent of those who received grants thought they had a positive impact on their organisation.

The report also shows that last year was extraordinarily successful with more than 90% of volunteers involved in IYV activities feeling that they were well recognised.

One of the best things about the grants is that volunteers showed they could make a little go a long way. The Swanpool Branch of the Country Women’s Association, for example, put in an application for $27 for a pedestal fan for their hall but still shopped around to get the cheapest quote. They didn’t want to take money away from other needy causes.

The International Volunteer Day is one where we can celebrate the achievements of our volunteers and recognise their value to our society. The contribution that they make is one that we all should be grateful for.

To register interest in the Grants you can phone our toll free hotline on 1800 018 312.