Central Coast volunteers are the bedrock of our community

Monday, 25 May 2015

I am really pleased to support this motion from the member for Griffith and to support National Volunteer Week. Every week should be National Volunteer Week, because every single day thousands of people in my community give of themselves selflessly and tirelessly to help others in our community. I know they do not ask for much and they certainly do not ask for the limelight, but this motion is a really appropriate way to acknowledge the work of six million volunteers around Australia and the contribution they make, both socially and economically, as we have heard already in this debate, to assist others and to build a better future for our nation.

They are the bedrock of our society—no more so than on the Central Coast, in my own community. According to the 2011 census 19,000 people do some kind of volunteering in my electorate of Robertson. They are people of all ages, from all walks of life. One in five volunteers in my community are aged over 15 years. Seventeen per cent in my community are aged between 15 and 19. They are young people having a go and making a difference. About 11 per cent are aged over 80.

The executive officer of Volunteering Central Coast, Michelle Vanstone, told me that there are around 3,000 groups on the Central Coast, including schools, Rotary and other organisations, that organise voluntary work. Volunteering Central Coast helps volunteers in our community—around 1,000 a year, they talk to. They serve in so many ways and it is impossible, in the few short minutes we have, to name them all. But here is a snapshot.

Surf-lifesaving is a very important movement here on the Central Coast.

There are 15 clubs on the Central Coast, with eight of them in my electorate of Robertson. There is an army of red and yellow volunteers who make our beaches among the safest in the world, no more so than my own club, the Terrigal Surf Life Saving Club. I was pleased to attend their awards presentation on Saturday night. They have more than 1,100 members and around 350 active patrol members, who served for more than 10,000 hours, in fact, nearly 11,000 hours, with no lives lost over the last season. There were 32 rescues at Terrigal beach. It could have been higher except for nearly 1,500 preventative actions that stopped our swimmers getting into trouble in the first place. Today, I just want to acknowledge and place on record my appreciation to club president, Paul Quick, and to his entire committee, particularly Mardi Love, Beris Meldrum, Chris and Toni Jones, and my own patrol captain Peter Ives. They represent the committee members of so many other surf clubs right across the Central Coast.

In signalling out a few, as I will do here today, I believe they are the examples of many people in our community who serve so tirelessly and so selflessly—for example, people in the Woy Woy Rotary Club, president Peter Mote and his wife Jane Mote who organised the fantastic opera in the arboretum at Pearl Beach. Over the last 10 years, this event has raised around $200,000 that goes to assist local community groups in my electorate.

There is the Copacabana Progress Association—and I have spent a lot of time with president Peter Hill and his committee members—who are campaigning and volunteering in their time for better and safer local roads in Copacabana, and for the prompt rollout of fast broadband to Copacabana, which I am pleased to say our government is delivering. There is the Gosford Business Improvement District, led by Deborah Warwick, who are working together to make sure that Gosford is a living, vibrant city. In fact, this Saturday, together with Liberty Family Church led by Kim and Tim Jones, they are organising the national day of thanksgiving right in the heart of Gosford at Kibble Park, calling out our local heroes around the Central Coast.

We have six branches of the CWA in my electorate of Robertson, led by group president Elizabeth Sutherland, in places such as Peats Ridge, Somersby, Terrigal, Umina Beach and Woy Woy, and they do a great job. Of course, there is our volunteer SES, led by Gosford controller Rolf Garda and his wife Sue, who did such an extraordinary job through the recent storms. I have made my tribute to them in another place. There are our football and sporting clubs around the Central Coast, led by outstanding people such as Ben Spackman, president of the Sharks, or the Terrigal Wamberal junior rugby league club, who in addition to running the club shaved his head on Saturday to help raise important awareness for brain cancer. And club president Warwick Davis of the Woy Woy Roosters does an outstanding job in our community every single day.

There are also our local churches and the army of volunteers who support the work of outstanding organisations such as Rotary, Coast Shelter in Gosford and Mary Macs in Woy Woy, led by the indefatigable Christine Burge. There are so many volunteer organisations that I could name, but as Ronald Reagan once said, 'No matter how big and powerful government gets and how many services it provides, it can never take the role or the place of volunteers.' So I pay tribute to our volunteers today. They are the fabric of our society. I am proud of the work they do and I thank them all.

Making things happen for Robertson

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