More than six million Australians volunteer their time to make their communities a better place and their fellow citizens happier and healthier.
That is a remarkable figure. One quarter of the population is actively involved in contributing their time and skills.
While we celebrate and applaud the selfless act of volunteering, it is also worth remembering that the benefits flow two ways.
Data available from Volunteering Victoria shows that volunteers are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer.
Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health.
Also, the experience of helping others provides meaning, a sense of self worth and inclusion.
The data also reveals that more than 85 per cent of human resource managers look for volunteering on CVs and that volunteering provides an opportunity to learn new skills and develop new connections in the job market.
Here in the Goulburn Valley, and in Shepparton in particular, there are countless opportunities to enter the rewarding world of volunteering from GV Hospice Care, to Sailability, Shepparton Search and Rescue, Meals on Wheels, Foodshare, the Shepparton Visitor Information Centre, our service clubs, schools and migrant groups.
The 2016 Census figures show 22.7 per cent of people in Shepparton volunteer.
The figures also reveal that volunteering rates are substantially higher in regional communities than in metropolitan areas.
This says much about the glue that binds country communities, where help offered after natural disasters is most evident, but the everyday help that keeps our hospitals, schools and emergency services running is equally as vital, but perhaps not so visible.
At The News, our reporters deal regularly with volunteer groups and we can confidently say they are among the most positive and energetic people we speak to.
International volunteering can also provide people with valuable insights into different cultures.
The Australian Volunteers Program and Australian Aid are just two of the many established routes for people to offer their experience and skills with the reward of helping to lift people out of poverty and disease.
The News thanks all those who freely give their time to help others in our community, and in particular we congratulate this week’s recipients of the 2019 Greater Shepparton Volunteer Recognition Awards.
More information about how to get involved in council’s community programs is available through Greater Shepparton City Council’s website.