Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) today (May 20) recognised the magnificent contribution of the Region’s Council-affiliated volunteers at a thank you function at Clifford Park Racecourse.

Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio said the function was a fitting tribute to the Region’s volunteers and partnership groups after a year of highly disrupted activities in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mayor Antonio said the function mirrored the 2021 National Volunteer Week theme of Recognise, Reconnect and Reimagine.

“The past year highlighted how irreplaceable Council’s volunteers are across our services and facilities,” Mayor Antonio said.

“I know Council’s volunteers were as disappointed as anyone that they were unable to offer their usual friendly service and assistance at our centres and across a range of community services.

“We are extremely grateful to the volunteers who were able to continue in their roles over the past year and we look forward to the resumption of many other volunteer programs.

“Volunteering is not only beneficial to our communities, but also to our volunteers. Evidence shows that volunteering connects residents to others in their community, leads to better mental health wellbeing and, in some cases, to potential pathways for employment.”

TRC Environment and Community Services Committee chair 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, the Regional Access and Disability Advisory Committee, the Regional Youth Advisory Committee, the Heritage Advisory Committee, the Regional Active and Public Transport Advisory Committee, the Toowoomba Region Aerodromes Advisory Committee and new groups dedicated to the environment, the Bridge Street Quarry development and multicultural issues.

“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 works with around 550 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.

Research commissioned by Volunteering Australia estimates that across Australia, 65% of volunteers stopped volunteering between February and April 2020, with this reduction being equivalent to 12.2 million hours per week.

Around six million volunteers dedicate more than 600 million hours annually across Australia.

Caption: Toowoomba Region Mayor Paul Antonio (right) and TRC Environment and Community Services Committee chair Cr James O’Shea (left) thank Mahsa Nabizada (Youth Connect) and Bomkey Mbaiornom (second from right, Toowoomba Region Youth Advisory Committee) and the other TRC volunteers who attended today’s Mayoral function coinciding with 2021 National Volunteer Week.