17th, May, 2021
National Volunteer Week kicks off from 17 May with the theme ‘Recognise, Reconnect and Reimagine’, something that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service acknowledges is of vital importance in the wake of COVID and other challenges communities and volunteers have endured such as drought, bushfires and most recently flooding.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO Richard Jones OAM acknowledges that 2020 was a ‘heartbreaking’ year for the Service’s hundreds of loyal and dedicated volunteers.
“For many of our older volunteers, their groups provided not only an immensely rewarding opportunity to support the Service in their local community but also the vital social interaction they needed to remain active and engaged within society,” Jones said.
“In a COVID world, this was taken away from them and we know that loss of social networks and engagement can lead to health problems such as depression and loss of a sense of self-worth.”
“For this reason, Volunteer Week this year for us is about recognising the challenges faced by our volunteers through 2020, reconnecting with them and reimagining their roles, ensuring they feel valued and acknowledging the vital role our Volunteers play,” Jones said.
Pre COVID, there were over 1,000 people throughout Northern NSW who proudly wore the red shirt as part of 37 Volunteer Support Groups, generously giving their time to raise awareness and funds, helping ensure the Service remained on standby 24/7 for those most in need.
COVID restrictions significantly impacted the activities of these volunteers but as restrictions continue to ease, the Service is actively ‘recognising, reconnecting and reimagining’ their roles in a post COVID world.
“Volunteers stand alongside our partners in NSW Ambulance and NSW Health, our supporters in the corporate sector and the community, to help us provide the best possible aeromedical search and rescue service in Australia,” Jones said.
“Since 1975 our generous volunteers have been fundamental in helping to ensure the Westpac Rescue Helicopter continues to fly for those in need. They make an immense contribution to the Service every day.”
“The theme for National Volunteer Week is about reuniting these groups and providing them with a fresh outlook, reinvigorating their enthusiasm for the vital role they play and welcoming them back.”
“On behalf of our staff, the Board and Regional Advisory Committees, I would like to say thank you to every person who has or continues to volunteer for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, especially in the wake of the challenges faced during 2020,” Jones concluded.
Providing a vital emergency service for our community would not be possible without the generous support of volunteers who dedicate their time at local events, shopping centres, op shops, cooking up a storm at sporting grounds and hardware stores, running raffles, collecting donations tins and providing their professional expertise and time free of charge.
There are so many different ways to volunteer and we appreciate every person who gives their time to help us save lives.
For more information on volunteering please visit rescuehelicopter.com.au/you-can-help/volunteer