Volunteers make a huge contribution
  • Wednesday 30 June 2010

A report being presented to Sunshine Coast Council tomorrow will celebrate the 2000 volunteers who work enthusiastically across the Sunshine Coast assisting in the provision of services.

Five volunteers will attend Thursday’s council meeting at Tewantin to show the human face of council’s army of volunteers.

Community Policy and Programs portfolio councillor Jenny McKay said volunteers work with council staff to enhance the delivery of a whole range of council services.

“We estimate that our conservation volunteers alone save council $1.02 million a year by contributing 34,000 hours to council-run programs,” she said. “These programs assist council to achieve its goal of environmental sustainability.”

“It is clear that volunteering is a two way street. Council and the community benefit from their work and volunteering also provides a great opportunity for social connections. Many of our volunteers have been working with council for many years and get great satisfaction from their work. Strong friendships have been formed within volunteer groups.

“One of our volunteers works five mornings a week to bring degraded bushland back to its former glory, while others light up the lives of people in respite.”

The report, titled Volunteers Engaged by Council, offers council’s ongoing commitment to the support, appreciation and acknowledgement of its volunteers. It notes that volunteer policy and guidelines are being developed to ensure a co-ordinated approach to volunteers across council.

Volunteers work with council to:

  • Keep council parks in top shape
  • Weed and revegetate bushland
  • Provide friendly advice at Visitor Information Centres
  • Educate those who missed out in Adult Literacy Programs
  • Help everyone access libraries
  • Run workshops at council’s Respite Centre
  • Guide visitors at council Art Galleries
  • Preserve the past through Heritage Projects
  • Ensure the smooth running of events, including the Caloundra Music Festival.

Bushcare volunteer, Joan Heavey who will attend tomorrow’s council meeting, spends most weekday mornings removing weeds from Heritage Park, Tewantin. In doing so, she has gained skills in distinguishing between weeds and native species.

“I have always been a keen gardener, but I had to learn what a weed was and what was not,” she said.

“I am amazed at how many small native plants have a weed that is very similar.

“I am extremely excited to see the return of native animals such as the echidna to the area.”

Noosa Day Respite Centre volunteer Mary McVicar offers her time to make morning teas, help with fundraising and run a regular craft group.

In the process, Mary said she had gained a new family.

“I love it. With my family all down south, it’s like having a second family here,” she said.

“My husband was also a volunteer at the centre for 12 years. Australia has been very good to us since we migrated here from Scotland and we wanted to give something back”.

Other volunteers include:

Ann Baker, who has worked at the Noosa Day Respite Centre for five years helping out and taking people on shopping trips.

Caloundra’s Josie Smith, Community Events volunteer, who enthusiastically gives her time to council events from Carols on Kings, Australia Day and the Caloundra Music festival.

Liana Flynn, Noosa Regional Gallery volunteer, is a practising artist who is current studying a degree in graphic design and Italian at Sunshine Coast University as well as volunteering at the Noosa Regional Gallery assisting children and parents in art workshops, as well as regularly contributing to the organisation of catering for the Gallery's exhibition opening events.