This week is National Volunteer Week, so take time out to thank all those who help others. ISABELL PETRINIC reports.
Last census figures show a staggering 22.9 per cent of the Hornsby shire's population — or 29,002 people — as doing voluntary work; and 19.6 per cent of The Hills population (26,231 people).
The figure was 15.1 per cent for greater Sydney.
"I think everyone should get into volunteering," The Hills Young Citizen of the Year Kasuni Fernando said.
"It gives you an opportunity to share your passions with others, make new friends, and help the community."
Ms Fernando, 21, of Baulkham Hills, started doing charity work in year 9 at James Ruse Agricultural High School.
"Me and my brother organised to donate school supplies to tsunami-affected children in Sri Lanka," she said.
"I also did St John's [Ambulance] in year 9. At Hills Community Medical Equipment Pool we assist with the short-term loan of medical equipment."
The soon-to-be medical science graduate was on The Hills Council's Youth Advisory Council from 2008 to 2011. It was for this work that she was recognised by the council, as well as for volunteering with Uniting Care and BUPA Aged Care.
She said those wanting to volunteer could start by looking at council opportunities, which all include training.
"If you like reading, maybe help at an aged care facility," Ms Fernando said.
Hornsby Council's spokesman said volunteers contributed 23,706 hours of their time to activities in Hornsby shire.
■ "Celebrate the power of volunteering" is the theme of the 25th anniversary year of National Volunteer Week (May 12-18).
Councils say thanks
Hornsby mayor Steve Russell will personally thank volunteers at this week’s Home and Community Care Volunteer Luncheon.
The Hills Council will also hold events to thank its 990-plus registered volunteers throughout Volunteer Week (May 12-18).
Free volunteer expo
The Hills Council will hold a free volunteer expo on Thursday, May 22, 10am-2pm, in the Castle Grand, corner Pennant and Castle streets, Castle Hill.
Local, state and national organisations, including The Oaktree Foundation, World Vision and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition will have stalls.
There will also be a panel discussion on the future of youth volunteering.
Council volunteer opportunities
The Hills Council will have an information stall in the foyer of Castle Grand from May 12-18.
Reconnecting with youth
The Hills Council wants to re-connect with volunteers who have drifted away and to find new ones.
Mayor Michelle Byrne said while volunteering was ‘‘alive and well’’ in The Hills, there had been a very modest drop in the number of volunteers.
‘‘But that drop is in line with nationwide trends,’’ Cr Byrne said.
‘‘While we are not worried, we are working hard to reverse the trend.’’
She said changes to council’s volunteer structure were in line with changes to work, health and safety legislation and aimed at recruiting more young volunteers.
“Research has shown that young people want to volunteer opportunistically; they want to help out for an hour here, or an hour there,’’ Cr Byrne said.
‘‘Our old system of volunteering simply wasn’t conducive to that.
“We are working hard to get them on board with community events and services.”