Media Release by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Launch of National Volunteer Week 2009

Senator Ursula Stephens this evening launched National Volunteer Week 2009 – Everyday people, extraordinary contribution, at the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club.

This year’s theme recognises the invaluable contribution of Australia’s 5 million volunteers to the richness and diversity of our cultural and community life.

Senator Stephens said one in three Australians combine to give over 700 million hours per year of their time to helping others.

“Australia’s volunteering spirit is a powerful force for social good in our country,” Senator Stephens said.

“The Government recognises this and will continue to work with community organisations and their volunteers, through the Volunteer Grants Program, the Volunteer Management Program and other initiatives to ensure they have the right support to continue their work.

“Over $27 million has been invested by the Government over the last financial year to support these programs.”

Senator Stephens said that this is a time of great flux in the volunteering landscape.

“In these difficult economic times, we are beginning to see an increase in demand for support services – services that rely heavily on volunteer support. Simultaneously, the number of people wishing to volunteer is rapidly increasing.”

Senator Stephens encouraged volunteer organisations to find ways to welcome these new volunteers into their organisations and to utilise their valuable skills.

Senator Stephens also said that volunteering is intrinsic to an inclusive Australia.

“Volunteering is intimately interwoven in the fabric of the Government’s social inclusion agenda, reflecting the extraordinary contribution of volunteering to an inclusive Australia,” said Senator Stephens.