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Shire looks for gold
Our volunteers among the most numerous in Australia

Sutherland Shire has a much higher rate of volunteering than the average across Australia.

"Volunteers make an absolutely vital contribution to the Shire's quality-of-life, yet the full extent of that contribution has not been widely recognised," says Councillor Genevieve Rankin who heads a recently formed Council Working Party on volunteering.

"But this year that recognition is coming quickly, stimulated by the Federal Government's call for the national celebration of 2001 as the UN's Year of Volunteers."

Survey reveals high participation

Council engaged consultants to count the Shire volunteers - those who keep over 900 community groups active and those who assist the work of health, welfare, educational and other institutions.

The consultants reported a significant comparison: "The proportion of persons involved in volunteer work [in year 2000] in Sutherland Shire, 31%, is considerably higher than ABS Survey results for all Australians, 19%, or NSW residents, 15.4%, or Sydney residents, 12.2%."

The comparison was with the best figures available from ABS, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that is, from its 1995 survey.

"This leads us to hope for national recognition of our volunteers when ABS publishes updated statistics to mark the Year of Volunteers," says Councillor Rankin. "Perhaps we will hear by late in June. We hope the Shire will win gold.

"Meanwhile, Council and its Working Party, strongly assisted by community groups, is forging ahead with a host of activities that recognise the volunteers and call on other citizens to volunteer similarly.

"As everyone knows, the Olympics dramatically brought volunteering to public attention and prompted the chief of the IOC to salute the volunteers as the main ingredient of the success of the Olympics and Paralympics - no fewer than 70,000 gave their services! After the Games, many of them have felt inspired to 'get out and do things', as the Sun-Herald observed."

To those who are the givers life gives back even more

You volunteer to help others; yet while doing so you are, remarkably, helping yourself. Hard to believe? Here's the proof:
  • Increased Vitality. Regular volunteer work, 'more than any other activity', dramatically increases vitality. - University of Michigan study

  • Longer Life . Those who help others live longer themselves. - A finding of the Universities of Tecumseh and Michigan

  • Cure for Many Things. 'The cure for all sorts of things is not so much being cared for as caring for others.' - Oliver Sachs, internationally famous psychiatrist, SMH, 26.2.92

  • Specific Health Gains. Selfless acts prove to be good for the heart and immune system. - Two US doctors in American Health (1988)

  • Happiness. Happy people tend to be those who focus as much on the happiness of others as on their own satisfaction. - University of Chicago study

Volunteers' Song

If you pause you just might hear a song
amid the traffic's beat,
a song that now is filtering down
to every Shire street.

"We're the mothers and the fathers
and the teens and singles too
who feel that when a need is there -
there's work for us to do!

"You'll find that we're not far away
when trouble's at your door.
We lend a hand in hospitals,
and lift the stumbling poor.

"You'll find us in the refuges,
safe houses, neighbour watch
and tossing lifelines hopefully
that addicts just might catch.

"Our cars are at the service
of the aged and handicapped,
of those who need a meal-on-wheels,
the lonely, money-strapped.

"From playgroups on to sporting groups
we act as secretaries,
give time by day in school canteens
by night in P&Cs.

"We act to keep the Shire we want
uncrowded, quiet, green,
and join the big campaign each year
that keeps the Shire clean.

"We join the monthly bushcare groups,
the brave bushfire brigades,
the lifesavers on beach patrol,
the health and caring aids.

"The arts, the crafts, the festivals,
the orchestras and bands -
as much as clubs and precincts do -
they need our helping hands."

.It's the song of real community
and backed by ancient lore:
To those who are the givers
life gives back even more.

Bob Walshe