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Media Release by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Volunteering experts advise government on strategy

Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector Senator Ursula Stephens met with key leaders from the community at the final meeting of the Volunteering Policy Advisory Group in Canberra today.

The group of diverse representatives across the volunteering community has met five times since its establishment in October 2009.

The role of the group has been to provide advice to the Government on its development of a National Volunteering Strategy.

Senator Stephens said the group represented the collective knowledge, experience and capacity of the broader community and their contribution has been a critical component in creating a National Volunteering Strategy.

“This strategy will provide a framework for developing policy across all levels of government to encourage a more vibrant and responsive volunteering environment.

“To be effective, the strategy must be informed by practitioners, volunteers, volunteer organisations and current research.

“This gives us the opportunity to work together to find fresh approaches to promoting the strong volunteering culture we have in Australia.

The strategy will be released to mark the ten year anniversary of the International Year of Volunteers in 2011.

At the final meeting, the Volunteering Policy Advisory Group discussed how the Australian community can celebrate the valuable contributions of volunteers throughout 2011, when the world’s eyes will be focussed on volunteering.

The group decided that the theme for Australia’s celebration of 2011 should be “Volunteers shaping the nation.”

“Volunteers make a significant social and economic contribution, contributing approximately $14.6 billion to the Australian economy each year, and next year is a perfect opportunity to celebrate that contribution,” she said.

Senator Stephens thanked group members for their valuable contributions over the past nine months.

Further information about the group and the progress of the National Volunteering Strategy is available on the Social Inclusion Website at http://www.socialinclusion.gov.au/