Vol­un­teer­ing cul­ture strong

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - OPINION -

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.”

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d448242

Home­less Con­nect vol­un­teers Jill Grif­fiths and Joanne Pol­lard with Vol­un­teer­ing WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Mara Basanovic (cen­tre).

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