Volunteering culture strong
WA is on the lookout for a new champion of volunteers after long-term Volunteering WA chief executive Mara Basanovic accepted a similar role in Queensland.
Before departing last month, Ms Basanovic praised WA’s strong culture for volunteering, with research showing four out of five people in some manner give time and effort to help their community.
That includes 12,000 registered volunteers who helped Volunteering WA fill 20,000 known positions of need last year and an untold number of unregistered volunteers who helped others in their own special way.
Ms Basanovic said through her time at the top in WA, there had been a shift in attitude to acknowledging and recognising the contributions of volunteers, making it now more acceptable to sing the praises of the often humble unsung heroes of society.
The highest honours are awarded annually, with nominations open now for the WA Volunteer of the Year and several other category awards.
“We have a strong culture of volunteering in Western Australia but we always have to remember to say ‘thank you’,” Ms Basanovic said.
Corporate and school requirements provide a backbone to the volunteering sector, which was worth a mind-boggling $17.575 billion in WA last year.
Stacked up against mining ($12.458b), construction ($12.458b) and manufacturing ($8.815b), Ms Basanovic proudly considers volunteering the state’s largest industry by employment.
A growing area of interest is family volunteering, where mum, dad and the children can all participate in an activity.
Ms Basanovic said this not only provides assistance, it builds family togetherness.
Cultural groups, led by first-generation migrants, are another growing resource with volunteering.
“We are finding first generation migrants are now more confident in linking in with their wider community and wanting to show that they are fitting into it,” she said.
“People have a real interest in things that connect them to their community and mostly they want to be engaged in the field. They want the people contact and story sharing.”
Homeless Connect volunteers Jill Griffiths and Joanne Pollard with Volunteering WA chief executive Mara Basanovic (centre).