The Hon. J.S. LEE (15:13):
My question is to the Minister for Human Services about volunteers in South Australia. Can the minister please provide an update to the council about recognition of our amazing volunteers at the recent National Volunteer Week celebration?
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (Minister for Human Services) (15:13):
I thank the honourable member for her question and for her ongoing interest in volunteering and all things to do with our community. I am sure she was very involved in National Volunteer Week that we celebrated quite recently. I was ably represented by my colleague the Hon. Corey Wingard at the parade that took place during the week as I was with housing staff on the APY lands that week.
I was very pleased when the University of Adelaide invited me to speak to its volunteer recognition event on 11 June. The university has a huge number of volunteers. It is quite staggering: they have over 30 different volunteer groups across more than 50 programs and they have 3,500 volunteers who volunteer for the University of Adelaide.
Some of these programs include things such as their Talking with Aussies program for students who arrive in Australia to assist them to connect with local services and introduce them to the Australian way of life. They have a peer mentoring program, Friends of the Library, history groups, people working in the university archives, and through their many music programs and science programs.
Unfortunately, I was late for the event but I was pleased to be able to award a number of people with their certificates, including one of their oldest volunteers, Mr James Menzies, who at 90 years old is an inspiration to all of the international students he has mentored through the Talking with Aussies program. Meeting on a weekly basis over the past six years, James has supported 19 students with their English language and social connection skills. He also shares his tips for helping students engage with other volunteers during their quarterly meetings, and apart from helping them with their transition to a new language he also provides valuable guidance on the transition to a new culture. Having such assistance provides international students with positive personal growth, wellbeing and improved learning outcomes.
There was also an award for the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study, which I understand has been operating for some 20 years. Some of the volunteers have been committing a day a week for almost 10 years to that particular program. It is one of the longest running and most comprehensive longitudinal male ageing research studies that has advanced our understanding of risk factors for early warning signs of diabetes, poor heart and metabolic health, reproductive health, mental health and cognition, sleep and musculoskeletal health and men's use of health services. They have also facilitated strong engagement with participants through newsletters, birthday cards and timely follow-up. They proofread community materials and grants, assist with survey mailouts, data entry, processing linkage data, transcribing, filing and refiling.
Another group award was presented to the Intercultural Volunteer program which supports international students, providing a positive and engaging experience for them through weekly coffee and chat sessions and cross-cultural conversation sessions, as well as fun events and activities like attending AFL matches or Adelaide Festival events. In 2018, the group was able to connect and engage with over 1,500 international students who had been studying at the English Language Centre.
There is also a program for graduates, students aged 18 to 24, which is quite unique. Students complete a minimum of 30 hours of volunteering to achieve the award. While volunteering is a good way to gain experience, meet new people and develop transferable skills, it is also important to highlight the value of making a difference in their community.
The University of Adelaide has a very comprehensive volunteer program which people outside the organisation tell me is very well run. I commend them for the diversity and depth of the programs they are running and wish everybody who is involved well into the future.