Australia — Attorney-General Robert McClelland has today recognised International Volunteer Day by congratulating the thousands of emergency management volunteers across Australia for their commitment and dedication in times of crisis.
Its a timely occasion to recognise all emergency sector volunteers, from those in the front line of fighting bushfires or assisting during cyclones and floods, to those in recovery and support agencies, Mr McClelland said.
Of the estimated 5.4 million volunteers in Australia, some 500,000 people give their time and service in an emergency management capacity, with at least 350,000 directly involved in emergency first response.
As the Prime Minister said in his national security statement yesterday, the Government continues to encourage and nurture volunteers as an integral and much appreciated part of our community life, Mr McClelland said.
As part of the Rudd Governments support for our volunteers, $3.25 million is being provided this year through the National Emergency Volunteer Support Fund.
The Fund will support more than 180 projects aimed at boosting recruitment, retention, skills development and training of emergency management volunteers.
Studies have shown that this money is well-spent, as emergency services volunteers save the taxpayer around $12 billion annually.
The council of emergency management Ministers, chaired by Mr McClelland, also recently acknowledged the invaluable contribution of volunteers in emergency management. The council is developing options to attract, support and retain volunteers, with an action plan to be released in 2009.