Warm welcome builds volunteering diversity in our community

21 May 2024

Volunteers from all walks of life are being recognised in Ipswich this National Volunteer Week.

Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding said the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, which runs from 20 to 26 May, is ‘Something for Everyone’.

“In Ipswich this certainly rings true, we have volunteering opportunities from nature restoration with Bushcare through to engaging with visitors at the Ipswich Visitor Information Centre,” Mayor Harding said.

“Ipswich is also a culturally diverse city, and a Welcoming City, and we give our appreciation to people from all backgrounds who give their time to help their community through volunteering.”

SES volunteer Maranda Buchanan is one of those people who gives her time to the community, having spent about six years with Goodna SES Group.

Recently Ms Buchanan, a Pasifika woman, was a panel speaker at the Welcoming Australia Symposium, on the topic of reframing volunteering.

“One of the comments from the panel, when you think of what a ‘typical’ volunteer is, you think ‘Anglo’, and that can feel quite intimidating,” Ms Buchanan said.

“It is important we acknowledge that and foster an environment that is inclusive”.

For Ms Buchanan it starts with having recruitment processes that establish the SES ‘orange family’ as welcoming and accepting of cultural diversity.

“At inductions when we talk about breaking down those barriers, you feel the sense of community build. If we are up front about it right from the beginning, it demonstrates we mean it, and it becomes a shared responsibility to build that culture within the group,” Ms Buchanan said.

“Then it also breaks down the barriers between us and the community – if we can get more volunteers who reflect our community diversity, we can better help.”

Ms Buchanan’s volunteering with SES has included major operations for our city and State, including the Springfield hailstorm, 2022 floods and Cyclone Jasper.

“My nanna always said we should always help those who are around us, because you never know when it could be an angel in disguise. And SES hit that spot,” Ms Buchanan said.

Ipswich City Council works with many volunteers across a range of programs including at the Environmental Education Centre and Nature Centre in Queens Park.

For more information about volunteering with Ipswich City Council, visit Ipswich.qld.gov.au/live/our-community/volunteering