Central Coast Volunteers

13 September 2017

House of Representatives

Thursday 11 May 2017

It is National Volunteer Week, and the theme this year is 'Give happy, live happy'. This annual celebration acknowledges the generous contribution of the more than six million volunteers across Australia who give tirelessly to their communities each and every day. Australia has a strong tradition of volunteering. My community, the Central Coast, gives generously. Volunteering Central Coast was established over 30 years ago and has grown to become the leading volunteer recruitment and referral agency in the region. Every year, they link over 1,200 volunteers with more than 110 community organisations helping local people. It is a privilege to share in this place the stories of some of the remarkable volunteer organisationsstories of sporting clubs bringing people together, stories of surf-lifesaving clubs keeping us safe, stories of community groups supporting those who need it most.

As a kid growing up in Wyong I spent most of my time at Baker Park playing netball. Today I would like to recognise the Wyong District Netball Association, an entirely voluntary organisation founded in 1961. Wyong District Netball Association is the largest netball association on the Central Coast. This year we boast 22 clubs, over 250 teams and more than 2,600 players, supported by over 500 volunteers. It is with sadness that I acknowledge the passing of Aunty Pat, a Mingara life member and an umpire I remember fondly for her fairness. Aunty Pat came to us from St George District Netball Association, joining Wyong District Netball Association 12 years ago. Aunty Pat volunteered well into her 80s. A badged umpire, in her later years she mentored countless junior umpires.

The Central Coast is home to the most beautiful beaches on the east coast, and, thankfully, due to the volunteers at Surf Life Saving Central Coast, no lives were lost on patrolled beaches this season. This year, volunteers with Surf Life Saving Central Coast put in 95,822 hours on patrol, saved 1,099 lives, prevented 15,973 people from getting into difficulty in the water, performed 2,105 first-aid treatments and attended 29 after-hours call-outs. I congratulate all members of the Lakes, Soldiers Beach, North Entrance, The Entrance, Toowoon Bay, Shelly Beach and Wamberal surf-lifesaving clubs on another fantastic season. Thank you for all you do to keep us safe in and out of the water.

Census data shows there are close to 10,000 children on the Central Coast living below the poverty line. In pockets of our community, around a third of households have a combined income of less than $600 per week. It is tough. We Care Uniting in Toukley collects and distributes clothes, baby products and cooked meals to families across the Central Coast who are living in poverty or are at risk of homelessness or family violence. It began as 'share the love', when two local mums saw a need and had to act. When it outgrew their homes last year, We Care Uniting stepped in, with the support of the Toukley Uniting Church.

In their first nine months, We Care Uniting received over 10,000 donations and distributed $49,000 worth of goods to over 249 vulnerable children and their families on the Central Coast. Based on current rates, they will distribute $138,000 worth of goods to support more than 700 vulnerable children this year. In partnership with the Toukley Neighbourhood Centre, they also prepare home-cooked meals, with support from local partners ALDI Toukley and Lakes Food Care. To date, they have provided over 2,000 meals to those who are hungry and in need.

Their month-long donation drive, May-B-Baby, is collecting children's clothes, prams, high chairs, nursery furniture, sanitary products, nappies, wipes, car seats and baby capsules. Donations can be dropped into my office; the office of the state member for Wyong, David Harris; and Toukley, Wyong and Watanobbi neighbourhood centres. And I am thrilled to announce Amcal pharmacy in Westfield is on board as a new drop-off point. I thank Derryck, Jo, Gloria, Annette, Wendy and the team at We Care Uniting for their dedication and commitment to improving the lives of othersand my niece, Ana, for making the first donation.

Recent figures estimate the annual economic contribution of volunteering in Australia to be around $290 billionimportant to note during budget week. Thank you to the volunteers on the Central Coast.