I move:

That this House:

(1) recognises the fantastic contribution that volunteers make to the community of Bonner, and to Australia in general;

(2) notes there are 8 million volunteers around Australia in organisations like sports clubs, charities and schools;

(3) congratulates the Government for allocating $20 million in funding to support volunteering; and

(4) notes that volunteering efforts make an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion.

I’m thrilled this Government is continuing its strong support of our volunteers. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our local community organisations and groups. They make a real difference. I’m proud to recognise outstanding volunteers in my electorate every year with the Bonner Volunteer Awards. And I’m proud to be part of a Government that is supporting their efforts with $20 million for the 2018 Volunteer Grants round.

There are more than 8.7 million volunteers across Australia who make an estimated annual economic and social contribution of $290 billion. Volunteers help people into jobs. They reduce social marginalisation. They help increase community participation. By helping people come together and work alongside each other, they help build a stronger and safer community.

I’ve gotten to know so many fantastic volunteers in my electorate. I’ve spoken here before about the men and women who’ve been nominated for my Volunteer Awards. They come from all walks of life, from many different backgrounds, but deep down they’re the same. Hard-working. Selfless. Giving up their free time to help others. And never ever asking for recognition or reward.

There are many amazing volunteers I want to talk about today. But in the interest of time I want to single out Mrs Irene Edwards OAM from Manly West.

Irene epitomises the very best qualities of a volunteer. She’s done so much for the community over many years. She’s been a volunteer, team leader, management committee member, and historical officer at Wynnum Manly Meals on Wheels for over thirty years. In that time, she’s helped countless elderly locals. She’s provided them good meals and, better yet, the love and support of a good friend.

You couldn’t find a more skilled or passionate fundraiser. I’ve been working with the Meals on Wheels to get their new kitchen and community centre up and running in Wakerley. Irene was a major driving force in raising over $1.5 million toward the new centre. She’s also helped local veterans, fundraising for the National Servicemen’s Association of Australia, Brisbane East Branch for over a decade.

Irene has touched the lives of so many in the Wynnum Manly community. Her work has not gone unnoticed. She’s received the Medal of Merit from the Lions Club of Moreton Bay, as well as a Paul Harris Fellowship Award from the Rotary Club of Wynnum and Manly, for her volunteer work.

And in June, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, Governor of Queensland, presented her with a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to the community. Unfortunately she was too ill to attend Government House for the general presentation. So in a very touching, rare display, the Governor General paid her a home visit for a private investiture ceremony. Her husband Ken tells me it was a wonderful experience for them, their children, and their grandchildren who attended.

Irene was deeply humbled and proud to accept this high honour. Ken tells me she still can’t believe it—well I and many others in the community can, and we thank you for everything you’ve done for us.

I am so thankful for all our local volunteers; Bonner wouldn’t be the same without you. You all deserve the highest praise for the incredible work you do in our area. I encourage local groups in my electorate to apply for the Volunteer Grants 2018 round to support our amazing volunteers.

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