Together We Thrive: Celebrating The Impact Of Volunteering - Speech

Queensland Volunteering Awards, Volunteering Queensland
Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane
22 May 2024

I acknowledge the Jagera people and the Turrbal people as the Traditional Custodians of these lands and pay respects to all First Nations people present.

I am pleased to join you today to celebrate the contribution of volunteers across Queensland. I acknowledge the Governor of Queensland, Jeanette Young, and thank the organisers, Volunteering Queensland for the vital role you play in Australia’s national volunteering infrastructure and for the work you do to promote connected and inclusive communities.

Happy National Volunteer Week to all volunteers here today.

Volunteers are at the heart of the Australian story. Volunteers coach kids’ sport and plant trees. Volunteers visit people in prison and provide support to people who are sleeping rough. Volunteers assist our veterans and help run arts organisations. An Australia without volunteers would be a much diminished nation.

We’re here today to celebrate the exemplary volunteers across Queensland who are advancing our nation’s story and building community. I congratulate you all for your generosity.

Each year, more than 360,000 Queenslanders volunteer their time to address community challenges (ACNC, 2023). Many of you contribute to some of the biggest volunteer forces in the country – both old and new. Since 1907 Surf Life Saving volunteers have been keeping beachgoers safe, with more than 30,000 Queenslanders volunteering for the organisation (ACNC, 2023). MATES In Construction – a charity set up to tackle high rates of suicide in the industry – was born here in Queensland in 2008 and now has over 23,000 volunteers nationally (ACNC, 2023). Orange Sky launched its unique laundry service here in Brisbane in 2014, and its founders Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett were awarded joint Young Australians of the Year two years later. It now has over 2,000 volunteers across the country.

In eight years’ time, the 2032 Brisbane Olympics will not only be the nation’s biggest sporting event, but also our biggest volunteering event.

Whether you support a large or small charity, all volunteers are united by one simple idea: make a difference by connecting with others, caring for them and building them up.

It is a simple notion that connects a Rural Fire Service volunteer in Toogoolawah with volunteers at Coffee Brigade who make coffee for the homeless here in Brisbane. It connects the volunteers at Lotus Place who support adult survivors of institutional abuse with volunteers addressing period poverty at Share the Dignity. It connects all of you in this room.

You give your time to addressing our society’s most difficult challenges. Volunteers are a balm in difficult times. You walk towards challenge. You give your strength to others in strife. You commit to walking alongside them in difficulties. Not walking in front, or behind, or influencing them in your self-interest. But committing to others’ wellbeing and needs – in a true act of equality. Through each of these gifts, you create belonging, connection, and community.  

The Australian Government has been seeking to build a society with these values of at its heart. We have invested in the future of the volunteering sector by providing funding to connect 5,000 young people with volunteering organisations across the country (Leigh & Rishworth, 2023). We are funding an updated General Social Survey, which will collect regular data on volunteering and community wellbeing.   

The Australian Government is supporting charities too. We have appointed as head of the charities commission the highly respected Sue Woodward, and appointed an advisory board that reflects the expertise and diversity of the sector. We have set a target to double philanthropy in Australia by 2030 and commissioned a once-in-a-generation review from the Productivity Commission. We are working with states and territories to harmonise charitable fundraising laws, which will free up charities to spend more time and money on recruiting volunteers. We have brought together the charity sector together at roundtables in every capital city (including two here in Brisbane City Hall), to discuss how we can build a reconnected Australia.

Thank you again to all of you to your work as champions for volunteering across Queensland, and for the work you do to build a stronger community and a fairer society. 


Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (2023) Australian Charities Report 9th Edition. Available:

Leigh, A and Rishworth, R (2023). Getting more young people back into volunteering. Available here:

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  • Toby Halligan
    published this page in What's New 2024-05-22 15:20:19 +1000

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.