Volunteers Di Buckles and Lauren Holmes were part of the Red Cross team showing kindness to returned travellers quarantined on Rottnest Island, WA, earlier this year.
On this International Volunteer Day, our volunteers are delivering kindness here in Australia, and around the world.
Registering and reuniting people fleeing bushfires, running evacuation and relief centres, connecting people to emergency grants and reaching out to those who experienced the horrors of the 19/20 bushfires – this was an intense start to the year for our volunteers. Hot on the heels of the fires came COVID19, a crisis affecting the whole nation. Suddenly, whole communities were facing lockdown, fear and anxiety, and for many, the isolation that results from being unable to tap into usual community and social networks.
Not to be deterred by the complexity of these cumulative crises, our volunteers put their tabards and tees back on, and found new ways to help. From crucial food deliveries to people in quarantine, to calling thousands who needed to know they weren’t alone, volunteers have been helping us get through this crisis. 2000 people joined us this year alone, training in psychological first aid to help deliver COVID19 outreach services.
While the pandemic and news about other environmental and societal crises can cause people to feel overwhelmed, volunteers – through giving their time and effort with compassion and courage – deliver hope.
Today, International Volunteer Day, we thank each and every one of our volunteers.
“I am so impressed by the breadth of work our volunteers are doing, helping hundreds of thousands of people from all walks of life,” Red Cross interim CEO Kym Pfitzner said. “And that so many of our volunteers supported their communities while personally affected by the threat of bushfires, or unable to see their loved ones due to COVID19.”
The theme for this year’s International Volunteer Day is ‘together we can, through volunteering’ and it rings true for Red Cross. Beyond helping in emergencies, volunteers are the mainstay of Red Cross community programs, including our shops, mentoring learner drivers, teaching children about preparedness, assisting refugees and migrants, and helping young people in detention centres. An often unseen but mighty team of volunteers have also, over the past 30 years, brought comfort to more than a million children by knitting our Trauma Teddies.
Our 17,734 volunteers are the core of Red Cross here in Australia, and part of an international movement, comprising millions of volunteers and members across 190 countries. Each is playing their part in helping humanity, according to International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies secretary-general Jagan Chapagain.
“I am optimistic that we will come out of these concurrent crises a united front, strengthened by our successes, our volunteers, and the potential to create a much larger movement for change,” he said. “Thank you for your partnership, for your humanity and for the hope you continue to inspire in these challenging times.”
Watch Jagan Chapagain’s encouraging message to volunteers.
So how might you mark International Volunteer Day? Perhaps there is a volunteer helping in your life, or in the life of your community, that you could acknowledge and thank today. Perhaps you are a volunteer, in which case, we thank you!
Or perhaps you have considered volunteering. If that’s you, please don’t stop there – turn those thoughts into action. Have a look at your skills, strengths and interests, the needs in your community or region and where they might match. There is a huge range of volunteer opportunities across Australia, including with Red Cross.
To join the movement, visit our Volunteering page »