Draft strategy set to harness invaluable volunteers

A draft Council strategy aims to encourage, support and celebrate the almost one-in-five Lake Macquarie residents who volunteer.

Lake Macquarie City Council Manager Community Partnerships Andrew Bryant said the draft Lake Mac Volunteer Engagement Strategy set a target of including volunteers in 75 per cent of Council departments by 2025.

“Whether it’s through spontaneous volunteering in response to disasters, stewardship of the local environment or looking after community facilities, volunteers are the backbone of our community,” he said.

“This strategy will help harness and nurture their enthusiasm to engage them in meaningful roles that benefit Lake Macquarie, Council and the volunteers themselves.”

Under the strategy, Council will develop an annual recognition system for local volunteers, linked to National Volunteer Week, and investigate a rewards system such as offering partnerships, reimbursements or discounts at local businesses.

Council’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Groups program will be expanded, and training and mentoring programs developed to help develop volunteers’ skills.

Mr Bryant said volunteer roles would be reviewed annually in consultation with the people involved, with separate investigations undertaken to better understand the health and social benefits of volunteering.

“We are really focused on developing our volunteers and providing enriching opportunities for them,” he said.

Lake Macquarie Mayor Cr Kay Fraser said Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed 18 per cent of people in the City volunteered.

“Volunteers help enhance our community connections and provide valuable services and support to people in need. Many of these people go unrecognised, but their passion for helping others makes Lake Macquarie better for us all.”

Lake Mac volunteer Terry Bryden, secretary of the St John Oval Operating Committee at Charlestown, said the working relationship he’d developed with Council over the past eight years helped build teamwork between the two organisations.

“This enhances and supports the role that Council has in delivering well-maintained infrastructure for the community,” he said.

Go to shape.lakemac.com.au to provide feedback on the draft strategy before 27 July.

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