Students to fill volunteering void
THE volunteering void across the Northern Rivers will soon be filled by local youth after the recent introduction of the NSW Premier’s Student Volunteering Awards in the region’s schools.
Volunteer co-ordinators from 44 North Coast schools met at the Byron Bay Community and Cultural Centre yesterday to discuss ideas about how to encourage and recognise the Years nine and 10 student volunteers involved in the program.
Student Volunteering and Service Learning North Coast regional co-ordinator, Jillian Eddington, said she was thrilled with all the schools that had signed up for the program, which would help towards encouraging volunteering in the wider community.
“One reason for starting the program was volunteering being an initiative in the State Government plan and they decided this was a great way to begin,” she said.
“We need as a community to encourage and promote volunteering and we know students will gain great community skills from it.
“The program will work with volunteer centres in the region that will help us link with community sectors that require volunteers.
“If we broaden volunteering by allowing it in schools it is more likely that students will carry on with it after school.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, school level volunteers make up 56 per cent of total hours volunteered in Australia, and NSW students now will be recognised for this significant contribution.
The program is not mandatory and students who choose to volunteer, or who have previously volunteered throughout Years nine or 10, will be given a log book to record their hours and will be awarded with a bronze, silver, gold or diamond certificate from the NSW Premier, depending on the number of hours volunteered.
Ballina’s Southern Cross School K-12 was part of a student volunteering pilot program last year that saw fantastic results from eager students.
“We had a really strong response from students and staff,” Southern Cross School K-12 volunteer co-ordinator Kirrily Myers said.
“The program entrenches that culture of volunteering in students so when they leave school they want to give back to the community.”