Toowoomba Regional Council’s dedicated band of volunteers might be out of sight due to the Coronavirus lockdown, but they are front of mind during National Volunteer Week from May 18-24.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said venue closures and associated social distancing requirements had stopped all of Council’s volunteer programs since mid-March.

“I know Council’s volunteers are as disappointed as anyone that they have been unable to offer their usual friendly service and assistance at our centres and across a range of community services,” Mayor Antonio said.

“It proves the adage, ‘you don’t know what you have lost until it is missing or taken away’. This is especially true for the contribution made by more than 600 volunteers who help across Council’s activities.

“I’m pleased to note that some of our regular activities will return in a staged manner, in line with state and federal government plans.

volunteersweek2020“The loss of regular human interaction has been a particularly hard aspect of the required lockdown, but we have had to conform to the health and safety precautions.

“Not surprisingly, some Council volunteers have stepped up to help the Care Army while our activities have been on hold.

“The National Volunteer Week motto, changing communities, changing lives, aptly describes the positive influence our volunteers make to the Toowoomba Region. I can’t wait to welcome them back in the coming months.”

TRC Community Development, Facilities and Tourism portfolio leader Cr James O’Shea said Council was indebted to the tireless work of volunteers across the organisation’s activities.

“Volunteers complement and enhance our service delivery in art galleries, museums, libraries, and cultural centres across the region,” Cr O’Shea said.

“They are a valuable source of knowledge at our Visitor Information Centres and help at bushland parks and with major civic events such as Australia Day, Anzac Day and other community celebrations.

“Council also works closely with SES groups in association with our Disaster Management coordinator and other agencies.

“Council receives valuable input and direction from numerous advisory groups, including the Indigenous Advisory Committee, the Regional Access and Disability Advisory Committee, the Regional Youth Advisory Committee and the Heritage Advisory Committee.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our community and, without the support and generosity of our volunteers, Council would not be able to provide the same depth of services to our community.

“Council appreciates the enthusiasm our volunteers display and regards them as a vital part of the organisation and the community they serve.”

Council directly supervises around 600 volunteers who help to provide services at our region’s libraries, art galleries, visitor information centres and, more specifically, the Pittsworth Pioneer Historical Village and Museum, the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery, the Crows Nest Nursery, Franke Scrub, the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers and other civic events.

Council also works in partnership with many volunteer groups who take a special interest and volunteer their time in Friends of the Escarpment bush care groups, Friends of Toowoomba City Library, Friends of the Empire Theatre, Jondaryan Woolshed, Friends of Queensland’s State Rose Garden in Newtown Park, Friends of Peacehaven Botanical Park, Friends of Yarraman Creek as well as Lions, Rotary and historical groups that assist in delivering civic events in our regional towns.

An estimated 43.7% of adult Australians volunteered a total of 932 million hours in the year before the Giving Australia survey was undertaken in 2016.

Different types of volunteering are more common depending on age, life stage, income, education, gender, cultural background and religious group:
• Women are more likely to volunteer than men,
• People aged between 35 and 44 are more likely to volunteer than other age groups, with 45 – 54-year-olds the second most likely to volunteer, and
• Volunteers over 65 years volunteered the most hours on average.

The 2016 Census revealed that 3.6 million (19%) Australians over 15 volunteered in the year preceding and the estimated economic value of these voluntary hours was more than $17.3 billion.

TRC Volunteering Statistics
• Toowoomba, Hampton and Millmerran Visitor Information Centre volunteers clock up more than 12, 500 hours per year combined.
• Toowoomba Region Art Gallery volunteers contribute more than 4600 hours combined (for the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, Crows Nest Regional Art Gallery and the Rosalie Art Gallery),
• Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers volunteers: Almost 2400 people volunteer their time over the 10 days of Carnival to help deliver events and activities
• Parks and Recreation volunteers – provide more than 4200 hours per year across the region,
• Advisory committees – 3000 hours per year combined,
• Library volunteers contribute more than 3500 hours per year,
• Youth Leaders, pictured above, contribute more than 1500 hours annually.