• Loddon Herald

Volunteers crucial in crisis

VOLUNTEERS are essential to Australia’s crisis resilience, a new report has found.

The Volunteering Australia research examines the volume and breadth of volunteers playing crucial roles in communities during natural disasters and COVID-19 outbreaks.

Volunteering Australia says the resilient and skilled workforce includes over 200,000 volunteers in fire services organisations and around 25,000 volunteers in state and territory emergency services.

A further 200,000 volunteers are engaged in more than 1000 registered emergency and relief charities. On top of this, many thousands of often ‘invisible’ volunteers help informally and spontaneously to support communities before and after crises. Volunteering Australia CEO Mark Pearce acknowledges how instrumental volunteers have been throughout the events of the last few years.

“This year’s National Volunteer Week theme is ‘better together’. Our communities have taken a big hit in recent times and yet volunteers are always there when we need them. Volunteers across the country have stepped up to help their communities through bushfires, floods, and the COVID-19 pandemic in a most practical demonstration of Australian community spirit.

“Volunteers contribute significantly across crisis prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery in many key roles.

“The aftermath and the impact of disasters are felt long after an event has taken place.

“Volunteers provide support to those affected by crises, including in mental health and suicide prevention services, which typically experience a surge in demand during and after disasters,” Mr Pearce says.

“This National Volunteer Week, we celebrate the significant contribution made by all of the five million volunteers across Australia.

“Volunteering brings people together; it builds communities and creates a better society for everyone.

“Together, through volunteering, we are changing communities for the better.

“We encourage everyone to come together and support their communities by offering your time and skills to help others.”

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