As many would know, last week was National Volunteer Week, which celebrates the valuable contributions made by Australia’s volunteers. There are 5.8 million Australian volunteers who make an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion.
I was able to attend the Lifeline South Coast’s volunteer recognition lunch and spend time with the volunteers from Kiama and other places in our region whose efforts literally save lives.
I was also able to meet Kiama Council’s volunteers, without whom we’d be unable to carry out many valuable services for the community that we do.
Even as a Councillor and long-time resident I was amazed, when talking to these fantastic people, about the range of work they do and how much time they dedicate to volunteering.
Blue Haven Care, for example, has more than 100 active volunteers who provide community services or work in the aged care facility.
The work they do includes community transport, respite and social support. This means co-ordinating social groups, working one to one with clients and their carers, driving them to medical appointments and taking them shopping.
This involves some higher level work such as working with residents in dementia in the MacKellar Wing, a challenging and important issue facing our community.
In fact, the success of our Dementia Friendly Kiama Project is to a great degree because of the work of the Kiama Dementia Advisory Group.
The Chair of the Advisory Group, Dennis Frost, was just in Japan where he was invited to talk at an international conference on dementia in Kyoto. I was very proud to learn that not only was Dennis invited to speak, but four other presenters at the conference referenced the Dementia Friendly Kiama Project in their talks.
Our youth services team (SENTRAL) is also fortunate to have a band of volunteers from Kiama High School who provide much–needed administrative duties as well as help with publicity and promotions. They also host interns from the University of Wollongong, TAFE placement students and high school work experience students.
The highly-successful ‘Munch Out’ program they run is also supported by volunteers who supervise the cooking.
Kiama Library has around 30 volunteers who work in the Family History Centre, make deliveries for the home library service, shelve books, manage the Jamberoo Street Library and help with school holiday activities.
I had the honour to present one volunteer at the Library an award for 10 years’ service. She has now announced her ‘retirement’.
To her and all the other amazing people who help Council in so many ways and make Kiama such a strong community, I say thank you.