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National Volunteers Week kicks off today

Today, we raise a glass and toast the five million people living in Australia today who volunteer to help their community out, with two-thirds returning in-person to keep the cogs turning in organisations around the nation.

<p>Talking Aged Care catches up with a valuable volunteer improving the lives of aged care residents for National Volunteer Week, to celebrate the life-changing work that unsung heroes offer Australia (Source: Shutterstock)</p>

Talking Aged Care catches up with a valuable volunteer improving the lives of aged care residents for National Volunteer Week, to celebrate the life-changing work that unsung heroes offer Australia (Source: Shutterstock)

Today, we raise a glass and toast the five million people living in Australia today who volunteer to help their community out, with two-thirds returning in-person to keep the cogs turning in organisations around the nation.

National Volunteer Week (May 15 – 21), celebrates the awe-inspiring and amazing feats of the helping hands handling the tasks that raise smiles and spirits in Australia, with Talking Aged Care Journalist David McManus speaking to an outstanding stand-out man, Simon Spencer, a retiree known for his fancy fashion and dedication to community service.

“I was a retiree, I had some time on my hands — I thought that I’d like to get in there and help. My own personal experience in volunteering happened later in life and certainly in my own circumstances at the hospital, I do patient escorts and in the past I’ve done ward visits,” says Mr Spencer.

“From my point of view, volunteering can start at any point in life, because frankly, look out your window and you might see that your neighbours might need a hand. There are some really interesting places that people can volunteer in.”

Mr Spencer’s volunteer work in the aged care industry follows his time as a retiree in outpatient care at St Andrew’s War Memorial Hospital, where he decided to spend a few days a week visiting and assisting society’s most vulnerable.

“The younger volunteers are really a great asset in any organisation, because they bring so much attention and energy into the workplaces,” he says.

In addition to his work in the aged care industry as a volunteer, Mr Spencer has made over 3,000 fidgets for the children on his 3D printer at home. He’s a gifted man and he’s the gift that keeps giving in his Queensland community.

“In this day and age, everyone tends to be busy. When you’re younger, you do have a different outlook on life, you do have career challenges, you do want to keep a social life, for mum’s and dad’s working, they can really struggle with time. Just a couple of hours a fortnight makes such a big difference in other people’s lives,” Simon concludes. 

Simon wears groovy waistcoats to match the day of the week and separate his style from the other staff, as a fun way to introduce himself and get to know residents in care facilities. A real life Patch Adams with a sense of flair, wearing fish and (his personal favourite) dinosaur waistcoats.

New data from Volunteering Australia shows that most volunteers help others out because they find it personally rewarding, with 72 percent listing personal satisfaction as a primary motivator.

Volunteering Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Pearce explains that whilst the common volunteering motivators are personal satisfaction and helping others in the community, motivations can differ with each sector.

“Volunteering extends across society, including in the arts, education, emergency services, sports, environment, health, aged care and disability, community welfare and other vital community programs. Our new analysis of the latest volunteering data demonstrates that not all motivations and modes of volunteering are the same across sectors,” says Pearce.

“This year’s National Volunteer Week theme, ‘The Change Makers’, highlights the powerful impact volunteers across all sectors make, supporting individuals, communities, and the nation. The week-long event recognises the millions of volunteers across Australia giving their time and energy to make change in our communities while encouraging others to consider putting their hand up.”

Over the next ten years, the National Strategy for Volunteering (2023 – 2033) presents the collective vision for a future where volunteering is at the heart of Australian communities.

The new data suggests this vision will be realised through celebrating all the different reasons why people volunteer and what motivates them to be change makers in their communities.  

Social contact is the reason why:

  • 53 percent volunteer in emergency services
  • 49 percent take part in supporting the arts and heritage
  • 45 percent devote their time to aged care organisations.

Volunteering Australia is inviting all Australians to become a Change Maker by volunteering or simply helping increase awareness of the vital role volunteers play in our lives this National Volunteer Week. If you’ve got some spare time on your hands after retirement, the team at Talking Aged Care encourages you to check out volunteeringaustralia.org and find the happiness that Mr Spencer has shared.

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