NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY
[11.43 a.m.]: I move:
1. That this House notes that:
2. That this House calls on the Government to continue the support and initiatives of the previous Labor Government with respect to volunteering in New South Wales.
(a) 9 to 15 May is National Volunteer Week,
(b) the theme for National Volunteer Week 2011 is: "Inspiring the Volunteer in You",
(c) National Volunteer Week provides an opportunity to acknowledge, highlight and thank the 5.4 million Australians who volunteer in their communities each year, and
(d) Volunteering Australia, the national peak body for volunteering, represents the views and needs of the volunteer movement while promoting the activity of volunteering as one of enduring social, cultural and economic value.
At the outset I congratulate the Hon. Jennifer Gardiner on her elevation to the position of Deputy-President and wish her well in her duties in the weeks and months ahead. It is with great pleasure that I move this motion today during National Volunteer Week. I thank those 1.67 million people in New South Wales who are involved in volunteering on a formal basis in communities throughout the State. It is important also to acknowledge the number of people who participate in volunteering informally. The literature on volunteering indicates that this dichotomy is defined by people who are formally involved and enrolled in volunteering, which is approximately 1.67 million people, and those who participate in good works of various kinds informally. The best figure on people who are involved in informal volunteering activities in New South Wales is over one million. Their activities include the assistance, care and support of relatives, friends, neighbours and members in their community.
The combined efforts of these groups of volunteers—to whom I will refer as volunteers for the purpose of my presentation—contribute enormously to the welfare and wellbeing of the citizens of this State. Their contribution is significant. Members would agree it is almost impossible to quantify the contribution that volunteers make all around the State. I do not believe a dollar figure could be put on it. Many honourable members will want to participate in this debate and they will seek to cover the many aspects of volunteering. Hopefully, by the end of the debate we will have examined and reflected on the most important and the key aspects of this significant social activity. I look forward to the various contributions that members present to the House.
I was going to launch into the definitional aspects of volunteering until I started to think about my own experience interfacing with volunteering and how it has impacted on my life. I cast my mind back to when I was a young boy and I thought about the people who had been involved in my life—people I had been introduced to and with whom I had had an association. It dawned on me that a number of these people undertook activities on a voluntary basis, although at the time I did not fully appreciate or comprehend it. I certainly did not appreciate the value of their work in my local community. I am unable to refer to every one of those people, but I will mention a few. If members were to undertake the same task and to think back over their lives, particularly their early childhood, they would remember a number of people who assisted voluntarily in the community. They would not have thought much about it at the time but, on reflection, they would realise they voluntarily did the work and we were the beneficiaries.
In my home town of Mandurah in Western Australia, where I was brought up, as a young fellow I was a keen golfer. For many years I would have golf lessons every Saturday morning. It is a game I do not play much these days because I do not have the time. Every Saturday Mr Josh Lefroy, who died many years ago, would coach young people at the Mandurah Country Club. From about 8.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. he would coach any young person who turned up. The young people did not have to apply or phone him and they did not send him an email because there was no such thing back then. They would turn up on spec, be introduced by Mr Lefroy and integrated into the group and, before they knew it, they were getting their first golf lesson. That coaching lesson would go on for probably 20 minutes or half an hour and then he would move on to the next person and so on. People could go back for coaching every Saturday—there was no limit. No doubt I was the beneficiary of probably hundreds of hours of golf coaching by a very good golf coach, at no cost to me. We should think about people in our lives who have been involved in perhaps training or coaching us in sport. By and large most, if not all, these people do it on a voluntary basis.
Living across the street from us was a woman called Mrs Cooper—I cannot remember her first name because as a young boy I always called her Mrs Cooper—who did voluntary work for St John's Ambulance. Once again, at the time I did not appreciate the type of work she was doing. An ambulance would often come into our street with sirens blaring and lights flashing to pick up Mrs Cooper. I lived in a country town which had some roads running in and out of it that were quite dangerous, particularly around Christmas holidays when there were lots of people on the roads in cars and on motorbikes. Terrible accidents happened on those roads. Around the Christmas period, sometimes daily or maybe two or three times a day, an ambulance would come into our street with its sirens blaring and lights flashing to pick up Mrs Cooper and invariably it would take her to the scene of a terrible motor vehicle accident.
Of course, back then seatbelts were not required to be worn and cars did not have airbags and the various safety features that they now have. Mrs Cooper was fronting up as a volunteer to the most horrific motor vehicle accidents and doing what has to be done after such events. I could not comprehend the sorts of things that Mrs Cooper would have seen in her life as a volunteer with St John's Ambulance. Once again, there was no charge, no cost—she was a volunteer and she did it because she obviously enjoyed doing it and she felt that she was making an important contribution to her community, as indeed she was.
I was fortunate enough to have been educated in a public primary school and in a Catholic high school in Fremantle in Western Australia where wonderful parents donated a considerable amount of time to the parents and citizens associations of those schools, in particular, parents who held office on those committees, organising events for the school community such as spring fairs, carnivals and so on. Those people put themselves out significantly by giving of their time to ensure the events were successful. I mention the St Vincent de Paul Society because I have great respect for that organisation. I remember that my father was heavily involved in the St Vincent de Paul conference in Mandurah. On some evenings after work he would disappear and come back a bit later. He explained to me that he had been out visiting some people or a family who had fallen on hard times and there was a need to organise food vouchers and so on. Of course, he was not an exception. All around Australia tens of thousands of people are involved in and are doing wonderful work for the St Vincent de Paul Society and other similar organisations.
The last organisation in my local town I will mention is the fire brigade. Back then in the 1960s we knew there was trouble in town when the fire siren sounded and the firemen—I suspect it was mainly voluntary firemen—dropped what they were doing wherever they were in earshot of the siren and would quickly make their way to the fire station, man the vehicle and go off to the fire. I could go on and mention other organisations, but I am simply making the point that with a simple exercise of thinking for a few minutes one can bring to mind many people in one's own life who have done things both directly and indirectly that have influenced, assisted and helped us, and they have done it in a voluntary capacity.
I do not intend to get too academic on this, but I will move on to the social science of volunteering. I draw members' attention to some books that I have read and that I have found quite interesting in forming my thinking and ideas about volunteering. One book that I read a few years ago was written by Harvard academic Robert Putnam. His well-known book entitled Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community
was published in 2000. The book examines the shrinking of what he calls the "social capital base" in the United States of America. He looks longitudinally, mainly over the course of the last century, at how participation in non-profit organisations and associations and the like declined in the second half of the last century.
Putnam articulates the argument that this has major implications for society and he goes on to argue that as this social capital has shrunk it has had significant implications for the welfare and wellbeing of the community and its citizens. His argument is not unique to the United States; he presents the argument that if this social capital declines over time it is an issue that will challenge societies and communities in the way they pick up the slack, so to speak, of the work that was otherwise done by people on a voluntary basis. He concludes by presenting the case that there needs to be a serious effort made by societies and communities in particular to work collectively to rebuild the social capital.
Robert Putnam's 2003 book, co-authored by Lewis Feldstein and Don Cohen, entitled Better Together: Restoring the American Community
, builds on the research contained in the 2000 book. This is another good book I recommend in which he looks at a series of case studies in the United States of America in the three-year period since his last book was published. He looks at the way in which communities and organisations have either built themselves or rebuilt themselves in rather diverse circumstances. In the Australian context the literature in this area is limited, but it is growing. I did not have a chance to read many books on this subject prior to making this contribution, but I did glance at one published last year written by Dr Andrew Leigh, who is now the Federal member for Fraser.
The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps:
A very good economist.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY:
I acknowledge that interjection. He was a professor in the Research School of Economics at the Australian National University before he entered the Commonwealth Parliament. His book is entitled Disconnected
. It is an easy book to read. It is not too dense or too academic, but it does contain a lot of interesting observations that a number of members in this House would probably find interesting in relation to social issues and matters to do with the community in general. In chapter 2 of his book, entitled "Joining, Volunteering and Giving", he looks at this whole issue in some detail. I do not intend to spend a lot of time reading what he says under the heading of "Volunteering"; suffice to say it is covered on pages 19 to 22 in the book. I will just mention some interesting figures based on his research and analysis. He states:
In the most recent survey—
meaning the last national census—
conducted in 2006, 35 per cent of Australian adults said that they had volunteered in the past year.
He then goes on to talk about the types of organisations we support and gives a good explanation about that. I found it rather interesting that he states:
Asked why they became a volunteer, the number one answer is 'someone asked'. Personal contacts matter. By contrast, only one in 20 volunteers said they decided to do it because of an advertisement in the media.
He goes on to state:
For most volunteers, the motivation is internal—they are much more likely to say that they want to help the community than they are to say that volunteering gives them contacts and skills.
There is a genuine motivation behind the impulse to volunteer. It is obviously not done for financial gain because, by definition, volunteering involves giving one's time freely. Nor do people volunteer explicitly to gain contacts and to develop skills. That does happen through the act of volunteering, but it is not a primary motivation. Dr Leigh talks about how volunteering has changed over time, and makes some fascinating observations. It is interesting to note that during the 1990s and in the current decade we have seen an increase in volunteering in Australia, with about 35 per cent of Australians now being involved.
Dr Leigh indicates two offsetting trends since 2000. First, we have witnessed an "up-ticking" in the number of people making a decision to volunteer. That is the explanation for the increase in participation to 35 per cent. Secondly, the typical volunteer is giving slightly less of his or her time. In 2006, the average time spent volunteering was 46 hours a year, which was a slight reduction from 49 hours a year in 2000. Dr Leigh then provides some thoughts about why volunteering has increased in Australia, and makes some interesting reflections on the Sydney Olympics and the influence it had on shaping community attitudes about the value of volunteering not only in New South Wales but also across Australia. He states:
Part of the reason that volunteering rates have stayed above their level in the 1980s and 1990s is the emergence of groups such as Clean Up Australia (which claims to have over 600 000 volunteers participating each March).
He refers to the emergence in the 1990s of a national peak body for the volunteering sector now known as Volunteering Australia. That organisation has been most effective in ensuring more comprehensive and professional lobbying on behalf of volunteer organisations. He also mentions the creation of volunteer matching websites, including VolunteerMatch.com.au
—which might be for dog walkers. They allow voluntary organisations to locate people with the skills they need. Literature about volunteering does exist and it is worth reading. It is important that we understand volunteering better so that those involved in policy formulation and the drafting of legislation can address the issues more effectively.
We have access to a large amount of information about volunteering in New South Wales. The New South Wales Government website is a key source of information, and specifically the volunteering portal on the Communities NSW website. I will not read the extensive material on that website, but it is very helpful. It also has various icons that allow access to information about how to volunteer, types of volunteering activities, volunteer resources, frequently asked questions and volunteer conferences. It also contains an icon that provides access to a huge range of voluntary organisations, associations and peak bodies not only in this State and Australia but also across the world. I have not had time to look at all of them, but it is fascinating to scan the range of organisations and to see how volunteering has matured throughout the world. I did take the time to click on the icon labelled "Minister". I was disappointed to find that the site advised "Minister details on this page will be updated shortly."
The Hon. Sophie Cotsis:
Did you look at the 100 Day Action Plan?
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY:
I acknowledge that interjection. I did not look at the 100 Day Action Plan. However, I did consult the official list of New South Wales Ministers of the Crown in an attempt to find a reference to volunteers. I started at the top, with the Premier, and went down the list. I looked as carefully as I could, but found nothing. I thought there must have been a mistake and that it had been omitted accidentally, so I checked again and again. The word "volunteer" is not included in the portfolio title of any ministry in this Government. I decided to check with the shadow Minister responsible for volunteering, because I could not believe the website was correct. I rang my colleague Cherie Burton and she explained the situation to me. I was gobsmacked to learn that there is no Minister for volunteering. I could not believe it. Perhaps I should consult the 100 Day Action Plan, because it might have some information that I should know. I did not have time to read it before this debate, but I will. It is worth noting that there is no formal allocation of ministerial responsibility for volunteering.
The Hon. Dr Peter Phelps:
Yes, there is. Victor has responsibility for it.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY:
I do not know about that.
The Hon. Marie Ficarra:
He is responsible for community relations.
The Hon. GREG DONNELLY:
I see. We all like community relations and we all have them. But given that volunteering is so significant and that volunteers make such an enormous contribution to our society surely that should be recognised by the appointment of a Minister with oversight of that area. I draw members' attention to the icon labelled "New South Wales Guide to Volunteering", which contains a wealth of information about volunteering in New South Wales. I also point out the icon labelled "2011 Australian Government Volunteer Grants Program". Applications for grants are being received from 4 May until 8 June. If members know of individuals or organisations in their community who are involved in volunteering they may care to draw that to their attention. I have previously mentioned two volunteer groups with which I have been associated during my time in this place. I spoke about one of them in an adjournment speech about 12 months ago.
Karinya House for Mothers and Babies, which operates in the Australian Capital Territory, accommodates on an ongoing basis a number of young women from New South Wales—they are often from southern areas but also from Sydney—who have fallen on hard times. They have had an unexpected pregnancy and are very much on their own. As I have said in previous adjournment speeches, the organisation is the gold standard in providing support to young women who wish to continue with their pregnancies and who are completely isolated. They may have been thrown out by their boyfriend or husband, their partner may have shot through or there may have been domestic violence.
Karinya House opens its door to such women—they are often, but not always, young—and accommodates them for the remainder of their pregnancy, which could be weeks or months. The women are cared for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are case managed by professionals, who are female. Karinya House has 23 volunteer workers. After the birth, mothers are transitioned from Karinya House to its sister house, Erin House. At Erin House they are helped with everything concerned with motherhood—any contacts they may need, accommodation arrangements such as social housing, information about training facilities to develop their skills so they can re-enter the workforce, and so on. We are fortunate to have in Sydney a similar centre run by the Red Cross. The Red Cross Young Parent Program in Randwick was established in 1993. I encourage honourable members who are interested to go to the Red Cross website and look specifically at the Young Parent Program. They will be overwhelmed in a positive way by the range of activities and the good work done by the Red Cross at its Randwick centre. I was absolutely gobsmacked to learn that the centre has 105 volunteers, who give their time to provide assistance and support for young women in need.
The Leader of the Government will speak shortly about the good work of the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers. On behalf of the Opposition, I conclude by acknowledging specifically the wonderful work of those organisations in this State. We have all had an association with them one way or another. The volunteers are dedicated and very brave, and are never found wanting when it comes to putting themselves out—and that goes for their families as well. We should thank the families who support our volunteers and their great work. I look forward to hearing other members' contributions to the debate.
The Hon. MICHAEL GALLACHER
(Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for the Hunter, and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [12.13 p.m.]: This is National Volunteer Week and today the Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service Cadet of the Year awards were presented. Volunteers come from all walks of life and are committed, caring and highly skilled people who give up their time in service to others. In New South Wales alone, around 1.67 million people are involved in formal volunteering activities through community and other voluntary organisations. More than one million people are involved in informal volunteering, such as caring for relatives or helping their neighbours in their free time. National Volunteer Week gives us the opportunity to draw attention to the incredibly valuable contribution that these individuals make to their local communities.
I highlight today, in particular, our admiration for and appreciation of our Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers. More than 70,000 people serve as unpaid members of the Rural Fire Service, dedicating their time to protecting their local communities from bushfires and other disasters. The volunteers come from all walks of life; they are men and women from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, age groups and professions. Rural Fire Service volunteers perform a range of important duties, including attending and combating bushfires and other fires, and, far too often, assisting with search-and-rescue activities. Volunteer members of the Rural Fire Service also conduct hazard reduction work throughout the year, as well as preparing their local communities and educating them about the risk of bushfires. Rural Fire Service volunteers also provide valuable support to other agencies, both in New South Wales and in other States, during major natural disasters.
The State Emergency Service comprises a widely diverse membership of more than 10,000 men and women who volunteer to assist their communities in times of flood, storms and other emergencies. The State Emergency Service is recognised as the most widely used and versatile emergency service in New South Wales. State Emergency Service volunteers are highly skilled and well trained in providing rescue, first aid and a range of other vital services during emergencies. They frequently travel outside their local areas at short notice—sometimes for days, if not longer—responding to emergency situations and helping others. State Emergency Service members help with storm damage and also play an active role in flood management. When a storm hits everybody runs for cover, but State Emergency Service volunteers run in to help. Volunteer members of the State Emergency Service also help to rescue people injured in road crashes, as well as providing support to other emergency services such as the New South Wales Police Force, Fire and Rescue NSW, NSW Rural Fire Service and the Ambulance Service of New South Wales.
To inspire young people to become volunteers, the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service each run a yearly cadet program for secondary school students. These programs encourage good citizenship and foster the volunteering spirit. The Rural Fire Service cadet program has proven a great success since its launch six years ago. It aims to develop an interest in the NSW Rural Fire Service and its traditions. Rural Fire Service cadets get a foundation in firefighting knowledge and participate in practical exercises, team building and safety training. I understand that more than 3,000 cadets have graduated from the Rural Fire Service cadet program, many of whom have gone on to become dedicated volunteer firefighters with their local brigades. The State Emergency Service cadet program has also been a great success and is now in its third year of operation. State Emergency Service cadets gain an understanding of the roles that volunteers play during flood and storm events. The State Emergency Service has had 703 cadets graduate from its program in the past three years, some of whom have gone on to join a State Emergency Service unit.
Participants in both programs develop qualities of leadership, self-discipline, self-reliance, initiative and teamwork. These qualities are not only crucial in emergency situations but also important in their daily lives. As I mentioned earlier at the presentation, which I will talk about in a few moments, far too often—and I hate to say it—older members of the community look down on the young, thinking they lack direction and do not have enough to do. But when one gets an opportunity to meet young people such as those who received awards today, it sends home a different message. Too often, we complain that the glass is half empty rather than half full. One award recipient is studying for her Higher School Certificate. Many kids say, "My HSC is on; I have to drop my bundle and do nothing else." But this young woman's attitude is that she will get through it. I am told that she aspires to be a doctor. She is aiming high and she is getting the runs on the board.
It was inspirational to have the opportunity to meet the young award recipients, and the young people they represent. That is why I invited them to come to the Chamber so that members could acknowledge their achievements. The young people can see where decisions are made and we have an opportunity to see people who are giving back to the community. I commend the volunteers for their work and I encourage the young people of New South Wales—indeed, people of all ages—to consider joining the Rural Fire Service or the State Emergency Service, or taking up some other volunteering role in our community.
Earlier today I was pleased to present the Rural Fire Service Cadet of the Year Award to James Petty of Gundagai High School. James is in the public gallery. This award is presented to the student who has completed the Secondary School Cadet Program at an exceptional level. James completed the program with an outstanding degree of energy and commitment, showing throughout the course a great deal of initiative and passion for the work of the Rural Fire Service. James was also part of the Riverina Highlands zone team in the Rural Fire Service State Championships, where his team achieved third place overall in the fire ground procedures event. I ask members to acknowledge James for his work so far. Well done.
I was also pleased to present Jasmyne Lee from Ulladulla High School with the State Emergency Service Cadet of the Year Award. While completing the State Emergency Service Cadet Program, Jasmyne became known for her abilities to mentor, encourage and support her peers. Jasmyne also demonstrated a high level of leadership skills throughout her studies, acting as an enthusiastic promoter of the State Emergency Service and its important work. I note also that the theme for this year's National Volunteer Week is "Inspiring the Volunteer in You". The purpose of this theme is to highlight the feeling of joy and satisfaction that comes from helping others. I ask members to acknowledge the work that Jasmyne has done. Well done.
I am hopeful that the inspirational examples of James and Jasmyne lead other young people to take up volunteering, whether as members of the Rural Fire Service or State Emergency Service or in any other organisations. I extend to both James Petty and Jasmyne Lee the congratulations of this House and the people of New South Wales on their outstanding achievements. I also extend my personal thanks to the thousands of Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service volunteers who work every day to protect and assist their local communities.
The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ
[12.22 p.m.]: I thank the Hon. Greg Donnelly for moving this motion. I also thank the Minister for Police and Emergency Services for these exceptionally talented young people to the Chamber. They are doing some fantastic work. We all know the importance of the State Emergency Service and the Rural Fire Service, and it is great to see some of their members in the public gallery today.
The Hon. Melinda Pavey:
The Hon. LYNDA VOLTZ:
It is perfect. Today I pay tribute to all the volunteers who make possible not only organisations such as the State Emergency Service and the Rural Fire Service but also organisations such as the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. These people put in considerable time helping young people grow and develop; they do an outstanding job. The Girl Guides and Girl Scouts play an important role in the development of our young women and girls. These organisations help them not only develop a love of our natural environment and community involvement but also build a sense of self in the years when this is fundamentally important.
More than a million Australian women have been, or still are, guides. It is a defining feature of their lives. My daughter is a junior guide—or a brownie as we used to call them—like I was before her. Since 1996 all members have been referred to as guides. The former gumnut guides, brownies and rangers are all now known as guides. The Girl Guides movement celebrated its Centenary of Guiding in 2010. Over that time many women have dedicated much of their time to ensuring that the organisation continues to offer opportunities to our young women and girls, and all those women—the Mindas and Tanas of the world—deserve our thanks and recognition.
I take this opportunity to pay tribute to one leader of that organisation who, unfortunately, passed away recently. Nancy Eastick was born on 19 August 1920 at Lidcombe in New South Wales to Alfred Albert Kemp, a World War I veteran who became a public servant in the Commonwealth Repatriation Commission, and Gladys Barbara Kemp. After she left school she worked for the Junior Red Cross and then the Far West Children's Health Scheme in Manly. There she became a leader of the St Matthew's Anglican Church unit and a trainer. At the same time she trained to become a member of the Guides International Service. This was established in Britain and Commonwealth countries in 1942 to participate in relief work in Europe at the end of the war. In January 1947 Nancy sailed for Britain, where she trained at Pax Hill, Bentley, the home of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell.
In March Nancy went to Germany, which was still devastated and under Allied occupation. She joined Displaced Persons Camp 131 at Einbeck, in the British Zone, working with displaced people from eastern Europe whose homes were now in the eastern bloc. Her first task with another young volunteer was to set up and run a home for Romanian children suffering from tuberculosis. She then transferred to a rehabilitation centre for displaced people crippled by war, forced labour or the horrors of concentration camps. A colleague said of her:
Somehow people were happier in Eastick's company for she was alert and cheerful, ready to laugh the tension out of a situation.
Nancy returned home in 1951 and wrote about her experiences in her book, Guides Can Do Anything: The Guides International Service 1942-1954
. Back in Sydney she worked at Guide House as a typist and also a voluntary trainer. In 1953 she was appointed camp adviser for New South Wales, becoming a full-time trainer. From October 1955 to July 1956 she was seconded to New Guinea as a travelling trainer. On return, she was appointed development officer for migrant children, finding leaders and establishing units in East Hills and Villawood migrant centres. In 1958 Nancy returned to New Guinea as a full-time trainer, living in Port Moresby. Initially she taught eight indigenous women, who were to become guides and brownie trainers. On completion of their one-year course the women returned to their villages, where they set up units. They were the first women from those villages to receive a formal education.
From February 1960 to October the next year Nancy repeated this process in Rabaul. Again, she returned to Guide House in Sydney as a full-time trainer, from 1961 to 1965. In 1962 she was awarded the Silver Fish—the Girl Guides top honour. In 1965 Nancy returned to New Guinea, where she found rapidly improving education levels had changed her training role. She was supported by leaders from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, who paid their own fares and gave up their holidays to teach there. She wrote training manuals and also an unpublished history of guiding in Papua New Guinea. She also became a district leader, first for Boroko and later Waigani. In 1966 she wrote a book Let's Go Camping
, and an updated version is still used today. In 1967 Nancy married Frank Eastick. She resigned as a travelling trainer to work out of the guides head office in Port Moresby. In 1972 the couple moved back to Australia to live, first at Kirra and later at Mudgeeraba on the Gold Coast. She became heavily involved in guiding locally and, in particular, training and camping. Frank was always a welcome addition to her camps. As one friend remarked, "Frank could fix anything." Nancy remained an enthusiastic participant until the end, joining the Trefoil Guild of former guides in retirement.
In her ninetieth year Nancy attended the organisation's centenary conference in Canberra. Nancy died on 20 February 2011, with Frank having predeceased her. Her memorial service was held on 28 March 2011 at Glengarry, the Girl Guides campsite at North Turramurra. I know the Girl Guides will miss Nancy Eastick. There are few volunteers these days who have served in so many countries—Europe following the Second World War and in Papua New Guinea—and been so fundamental to the development of the guides movement there and in Australia, where she also made a wonderful contribution. In considering the contributions and achievements of volunteers, Nancy stands alone as one of the most outstanding volunteers Australia has ever seen.
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA
(Parliamentary Secretary) [12.29 p.m.]: It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge the wonderful work in our community of volunteers, particularly during this year's National Volunteer Week, the theme of which is "Inspiring the Volunteer in You". I note that International Volunteer Week will be held between 9 and 15 May. As we all know, volunteers make up the fabric of our society, and our community would not be what it is without them. I congratulate the Hon. Greg Donnelly on moving the motion. As the member said, as we grow up in our communities we come into contact with many volunteers, both in our networks of family and friends and in the wider community. It certainly has an impact on us as children; indeed, it makes us appreciate the important things in life and our need to give back to the community. All members of this place are lucky to have received a good education and opportunities that have enabled them to become members of this esteemed place, and it is therefore important that we remember that we must always give back to the community.
This motion gives me an opportunity to place on record the extraordinary service of some extraordinary people with whom I have come into contact over many years in the voluntary sector. Across Australia each year over 5.4 million people give generously of their time and volunteer in an array of capacities. Sadly, statistics documented by The Centre for Volunteering—the home of Volunteering NSW—indicate that urban areas across Australia New South Wales have a lower rate of volunteerism than is the case in most other States and Territories. The finding surprised me in a way, until I thought about the reasons for it. I think it is a realistic reflection of the cost of living in cities and all the challenges individuals and families face nowadays with regard to earning a living, the rising cost of providing a roof over the family's head, and the cost of food and electricity. We know that when times are tough—and in many cases people have to take on part-time jobs to support their families—the first thing to go must be the hours that a volunteer gives to the community, because we know that the family comes first. We hope that that situation can be improved and that New South Wales will once again lift its rate of volunteering.
The Hon. Greg Donnelly was somewhat disingenuous in his comments about the Minister. I am disappointed that the latter part of the motion politicises the issue. Perhaps part of the reason why New South Wales has a lower rate of volunteerism than most other States and Territories is that the former Labor Government, while it drafted a volunteering strategy known as "Celebrating IYV+10"—which I imagine stands for the "International Year of Volunteerism Plus 10"—it failed to ever implement the strategy and make it public. So it is a bit disingenuous of the Hon. Greg Donnelly to try to make cheap political shots at the Minister. The Minister's title and portfolio responsibilities are clearly set out on the Parliament's website. The Hon. Victor Dominello, MP, is Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. The Communities portfolio encompasses citizenship, youth, volunteers and veterans affairs. Clearly, the Hon. Victor Dominello is a dynamic Minister. His personality, for all those who know him, lends itself perfectly to the portfolio for which is responsible.
The O'Farrell Government is committed to supporting and encouraging volunteers, and the Minister, the Hon. Victor Dominello, will do a great job in that role. Minister Dominello himself comes from a family and community dedicated to serving others. Clearly, this was acknowledged in his electorate of Ryde, primarily in the first by-election and subsequently at the last State election. In the Italian-Australian community we have people who have worked tirelessly for many years to promote Italian culture and foster relations and good citizenship. I refer to people like John Caputo, OAM, Tony Mustacca, Roy Mustacca, OAM, Vince Foti, Luigi Stivalla, Paul Signorelli—many of us will attend next week's function hosted by the Signorelli Foundation for mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases—Ubaldo Larovina, Filippo, John and Sal Navara, Nick Scali, Nat Zanardo, OAM, Vince Cammareri, Phil Montrone, Frank Oliveri and Teresa Restifa. I also acknowledge Peter Todaro, John De Bellis and Linda Restuccia, who are working through the Co.As.It organisation, and Romano Di Donato, Frank Chiment, Claudia Ganora, Francesco Lo Pizzo, Maria Pirrello, Ben Sonego, Franca Arena, AM, and Rita Zammit. All these people continue to make a significant contribution, as they have done over many years.
The GO Research Fund, a fund for cervical cancer research—"GO" standing for gynaecological oncology—is another organisation through which volunteers give their all. I pay tribute to the main founder of the GO Research Fund, Professor Neville Hacker, who is renowned nationally and internationally as a leading clinician in the field of gynaecological oncology. Professor Neville Hacker has for many years turned his attention to ovarian cancer, the silent killer. I acknowledge another great man who works at the Royal Hospital for Women: the head of the cervical dysplasia and colonoscopy clinic, Dr Mick Campion. I thank the Maroubra Rotary Club, which is a great supporter of ovarian cancer research. The club has made the research project one of its special initiatives over the years. In particular I acknowledge the club's immediate past president Rosa Spencer, who is a good friend of mine.
On 25 May this year many members of this Parliament will again attend a high tea in support of the Cancer Council's Biggest Morning Tea initiative. The high tea concept was borne principally as a result of the dedication of my advisor, Vincent De Luca, OAM, who has organised this event for several years. At the age of 22 Vincent was given six weeks to live when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma cancer. Fortunately, through courage he survived. Vincent De Luca has been a community volunteer since he was 12 years of age, following in the footsteps of his beloved grandmother and mother, both of whom have been awarded the Order of Australia for their outstanding voluntary contributions to the community.
Vince has worked in community services, sporting organisations, social welfare, youth suicide prevention, drug and alcohol prevention, and child protection. He served as President of the Curl Curl Youth and Community Centre Management Committee for over a decade. He is a White Ribbon Ambassador for the prevention of violence against women, has been the President of Give Anything Prevent Youth Suicide, was a delegate to the National People's Convention on Youth Suicide Prevention, and is a former executive member of the People's Council on Drug Prevention—High on Hope. In 2004 Vince became one of the youngest people in this nation to be awarded the Order of Australia for outstanding voluntary service to our community. I am very proud of Vince, and I wanted to place on record his outstanding voluntary service, which continues today—and he loves doing it.
The Hon. Greg Donnelly:
He keeps busy.
The Hon. MARIE FICARRA:
He keeps busy, as the Hon. Greg Donnelly says. When I think of the sport of swimming, I think immediately of Mrs Isa Wye, MBE, OAM, who was the Manager of the Australian Women's Olympic Team that competed in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow. Isa was a foundation member of Warringah Amateur Swimming Association, has been president of the oldest ladies swimming club in Australia, Dee Why Amateur Swimming Club, for over 50 years. She has served as patron, president, senior vice-president, vice-president and technical convenor of Warringah Amateur Swimming Association and has been accorded life membership of Dee Why Ladies' Amateur Swimming Club, the Warringah Amateur Swimming Association and the New South Wales Amateur Swimming Association. A qualified swimming referee, judge and timekeeper, Isa has officiated at club, district, State and national championships as well as international meets. In honour of Isa's outstanding service to swimming she was awarded the Medal of the British Empire and Order of Australia Medal. She was also awarded the auspicious Natatorial Award of the Australian Union of Old Swimmers for her lifetime contribution to swimming.
I have spoken in this place before about one of the largest participatory sports in this country—netball. In order that that great sport can be played across New South Wales, thousands of volunteers give freely of their time each and every week. The Board of Netball NSW Wales does a wonderful job. The board comprises its president Wendy Archer, AM, and members Rodney Watson, Michele Murphy, Carol Murphy, Ruth Havrlant, Lynn Quinn, OAM, and John Hahn. Carolyn Campbell also does an excellent job as the board's general manager. When one talks of netball, one immediately thinks of Anne Sargeant, OAM, a worldwide legend of netball. She has spent her life promoting and furthering the interests of netball across the world. She has dedicated herself to giving something back to the game, and has worked tirelessly at club, district, State, national and international levels. New South Wales is also the home of world number one ranked umpire Sharon Kelly. Sharon has been awarded Netball Australia's Umpire of the Year award on numerous occasions, and has also named the New South Wales Sports Official of the Year.
Maureen Stephenson is also amazing. Maureen has been involved with the sport all her life as an elite AA umpire, administrator and team manager. She is the current manager of the Australian 17 years Junior Talent Squad, the 21 and under and 17 and under State teams and Australian national league team. There are many other men and women involved in netball at all levels who contribute voluntarily and whom I have had the pleasure of knowing for many years. I speak of Neita Matthews, OAM; Roslyn De Luca, OAM; Beverley Dew, OAM; Lyn Burgess, OAM; Wendy Glassman; Coralie Newman; Anka Cveticanin; Stuart Ting; and Tracey Robinson, to name just some. I also note the outstanding work of Lesley Milner, who has been involved with the Hills Netball Association for many years. She was the association's first registrar and served as junior registrar for almost 20 years.
I have been privileged to meet people in the surf life saving movement like Kevin Martin, OAM, who has dedicated his life to surf life saving. He also served for many years as a soccer referee and local historian. With regard to rugby union, I have been delighted to visit the Central Coast and see the work of volunteers at the Warnervale Rugby Club. John and Karen McNamara, club president Jim Bilton and the rest of the committee do a wonderful job, as do the many coaches, managers and referees associated with this sport. I also note the excellent work of former Wallaby Julian Huxley, who continues to be an inspiration for thousands of people after recovering from a brain tumour and becoming a great advocate for cancer research. He is a Cancer Council ambassador and regular speaker. He is the only person in the world to have returned to an elite physical contact sport following a craniotomy. Similarly, his mother Kerri Huxley, the former Mayor of Woollahra, continues to work hard on behalf of the community and supports Julian in his voluntary endeavours.
Soccer is becoming one of Australia's favourite sports. The generosity of Lucas Neil and others is admirable. Apart from donating money, Lucas Neil set up a junior scholarship program in 2006 not only to give something back to his boyhood football club, Manly United, but also because of a genuine desire to develop grass roots football in Australia and give young Australians an opportunity of a lifetime. In rugby league I have nothing but admiration for people like Diane Langmack, Luke Lewis and Petero Civoniceva. Diane Langmack has made an outstanding contribution to the Cure our Future Foundation for Cancer Research, other charitable organisations as well to rugby league in general. In 2006 her world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer. Instead of surrendering to her illness, Diane decided that the best medicine was to work harder, and she dedicated herself to furthering the work of her doctor and leading medical researcher, Professor John Rasko. During her time at Penrith Panthers she has helped establish various community-focussed programs to assist youth at risk and charitable organisations.
Both Luke Lewis and Petero Civoniceva are the backbone of the Panthers on the Prowl program, which endeavours to make a difference to the wellbeing of young people in western Sydney. The schools program began in 2002 and has had a measurable impact on the lives of over 250 young people and their families. As well as making this important individual gain, it has proved that communities and agencies working together can produce mutually beneficial outcomes. Both Luke and Petero are ambassadors for the White Ribbon Foundation—for the prevention of violence against women—and in 2010 Luke was a finalist in the New South Wales Volunteer of the Year awards.
Thousands upon thousands of others have made significant contributions by volunteering in a wide variety of way: Meals on Wheels, feeding the homeless, the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service, the Country Women's Association, neighbourhood centres, Rotary and Lions clubs, the Red Cross and church parishes throughout the country. There are so many dedicated people in my parish, St Aloysius at Cronulla, who are undertaking many incredible programs on a daily basis. There is also St Vincent's de Paul, Anglicare, the Salvation Army, Wesley Mission, Clean Up Australia activities, Cancer Council events such as the Relay for Life, Daffodil Day, Australia's Biggest Morning Tea, the girl guides and scouts—the list goes on.
I make particular mention of a real character and great friend of mine from the Sutherland shire, Councillor George Capsis, OAM. George, who is a Baptist minister and an independent councillor on the Sutherland Shire Council, runs a Christian outreach ministry. What a wonderful man he is. He does his own fundraising. He is also a part-time electrician. Whatever he is paid for any electrical work he does is given to the Christian outreach ministry for victims of domestic violence, for homeless youths, and for adults and youths affected by alcohol and who are drug dependent. He also successfully runs group homes. He has a great ability to connect with anyone in need. He officiated over the bringing together of relations post the Cronulla riots. He is a great human being. To all of volunteers too numerous to put on record throughout New South Wales and Australia I say thank you for your selfless dedication to community.
The Hon. JAN BARHAM
[12.46 p.m.]: On behalf of The Greens I make a contribution to the motion of Hon. Greg Donnelly in acknowledgment of National Volunteer Week. I thank the Hon. Greg Donnelly for moving the motion. I place on record the appreciation of The Greens of the enormous contribution made by volunteers in the New South Wales community. Their passion and commitment for supporting their local communities must be recognised and celebrated. Volunteering is an essential part of strong and resilient communities. In my community volunteering in part fills the gaps left by insufficient government funding of services. In a sense volunteers become a safety net. In my inaugural speech last night I commented on how volunteers in rural and regional communities are the glue and that without their work many of the support services in our communities would fall apart. No doubt the Hon. Paul Green will agree with me that from a local government perspective the good work of our volunteers is relied upon.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge some of the great contributions made in my community by volunteers. It was fantastic to hear the Leader of the House acknowledge the young award winners who were present in the gallery today. I have some interesting statistics indicating how many Australians engage in volunteering each year: 5.4 million people. It is nice to see but I suppose not surprising—and I mean no disrespect—that the statistics show that slightly more women than men volunteer. We need to understand why that is happening, and by doing so perhaps more men will take up the challenge of volunteering. We should encourage equity in our contributions and involvement in resilient, vibrant and healthy communities. It is all about health and well-being, and that is what I want to talk about.
On average 1.1 hours a week are volunteered. Busy people say they cannot find the time to volunteer. The theme for this year's National Volunteer Week is "Inspiring the Volunteer in You". We must send the message that volunteering gives back to the individual. That is often forgotten. People think that they are too busy to volunteer. But by volunteering one hour a week and meeting wonderful people in their community they also enrich their own lives. As I have heard many times, people who go out into their community and help those in need get so much back. At times we think that life is tough, that we are too busy and we are struggling to cope. But when we know of others who are less fortunate or in greater need, it stops us thinking that way. That awareness is something that money cannot buy.
While I applaud the work of volunteers across New South Wales, I realise that we have to aim higher in terms of increased volunteer participation. In some areas in New South Wales less than 10 per cent of the population contributes voluntary work. I appeal to the Government to continue to review how volunteer work can be supported, encouraged and enhanced. Perhaps it could be done through further grants and assistance, particularly in the regions where transport support may assist people to engage in the community. We have to determine how we can make improvements and provide opportunities for greater participation. I am honoured as an elected representative to be invited to many events in my area and become better informed about my community. When I became mayor I was invited to meetings and events that I had no idea ever took place in my community. I have met with small groups who look after others in the community. They perform work that many of us do not know about, but if they stopped performing that work, we would notice.
Some groups help those less fortunate, for example people who live on the street. Since the global financial crisis, the number of people turning up at soup kitchens and seeking services from regional community centres in my area has increased by 60 per cent. We have to offer more support to those who need assistance and those who provide it. The Volunteering Australia website has information about how business and corporate entities can encourage and support their workers to volunteer during work time. I congratulate the businesses and corporations who support their employees to contribute in this way. It is a fine way to meet their corporate social responsibility benchmarks by allowing their staff to go out into the community and do good work. When those employees come across others less fortunate, they will have a greater appreciation of the opportunities they have in their lives. It is a valuable lesson.
Members have raised the important work of the State Emergency Service [SES], the Rural Fire Service and emergency rescue workers. I have often heard stories of accidents and emergencies in my area where these people attend all hours of the night and then turn up for work the next day. Sadly, sometimes they have attended accidents where the victims are people they know. It takes enormous strength and resilience to keep doing it and to keep giving back to the community. National Volunteer Week gives us an opportunity to recognise the work of our volunteers. Volunteering should be recognised every single day. We should keep it in focus and support it. The previous Labor Government implemented laudable programs and support for volunteers, such as providing free national park passes to State Emergency Service volunteers. These small gestures, which do not cost a lot of money, are an acknowledgement of our appreciation and a way of giving back. I encourage the Government to think creatively about providing more support in this way.
We must reflect on current impediments that act as disincentives for people who are currently volunteering or contemplating giving their time to their community. I draw the attention of members to the New South Wales publication "State Electoral Districts Ranked by 2006 Census Characteristics", which provides interesting data. It shows that country electorates rank high in volunteering. The fact that metropolitan areas are lower ranked deserves our attention. We have to make it easier or more attractive for people in the cities to volunteer in their communities. In many ways, it is easier for people in denser communities to volunteer. In my area a tremendous amount of people provide voluntary work. The average for volunteering in communities is 17.7 per cent of the population. My community is ranked right up at the top with 27 per cent of people engaged in volunteering. Volunteering covers a broad area; there is something for everyone. There is bush regeneration work, as I have done, or working at a soup kitchen or with the Girl Guides, the Rural Fire Service and the Christian Women's Association [CWA]. I am very proud of the Christian Women's Association membership in my area.
Mention has been made about cadetship programs. A few years ago organisations in country areas noted the lack of young people amongst their membership. Since then, they have made a concerted effort to attract young people. They have gone to schools to talk to students and encourage them to do volunteer work. In my area, Suffolk Park station was being vandalised. A crew went along to the local school, informed the young people about the importance of community work and encouraged them to become involved. Now a high percentage of young people are volunteering in the community.
The Rural Fire Service brigade leader in Suffolk Park, Greg Miller, won our Volunteer of the Year award last year. I note that our local group went to Queensland to help during the floods. I wish to make special mention of a wonderful friend, Noel McAviney from the State Emergency Service. Noel has volunteered also on committees of the council and is a fantastic person in our community. Both the Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Service encourage the participation of women as well as young people. Finally, I mention another member of my community who gives his time and energy endlessly, Paul Irwin, a member of the surf life saving organisation and sports association. These wonderful people deserve to be recognised and applauded. I thank the Hon. Greg Donnelly for moving this motion.
[The Deputy-President (The Hon. Jennifer Gadiner) left the chair at 1.00 p.m. The House resumed at 2.30 p.m.
Pursuant to sessional orders business interrupted at 2.30 p.m. for questions.