December 8 - 14, 2013: Issue 140

 Volunteers Civic Reception 2013

Close to 150 volunteers attended the Volunteers Civic Reception on 4th of December at Mona Vale Golf Club. The event coincided with the International Volunteers Day celebrated on the 5th of December. Representatives attended from many organisations including life saving, environmental, bushcare, rural fire service, emergency, youth, aged and disability support, art and culture, community service & support, sporting and many others.

CR. Townsend, Mayor of Pittwater honoured all Pittwater volunteers and this year made special mention of the Rural Fire Service that had worked so hard assisting with fires across the state. 

The Mayoral speech from the Volunteers Civic Reception:

I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land we gather on tonight. Pittwater Council honours and respects the Elders and Spirits of the Guringai People.

Show me a person who may be asked to give more than just dedication, and, I’ll show you a volunteer. 

Welcome to Pittwater Council’s Volunteers Evening

Tonight is when we come together as a community to acknowledge, celebrate and thank all of our wonderful dedicated band of volunteers. 10, 000 people form our community volunteer their time to keeping us and our property safe, care for our less abled and disabled, our children and our parents.

Our volunteers give our carers the respite they so desperately need, they drive us where we need to go, and look out for each other when we need a hand.

Tonight we celebrate them, for without them, we would be a poorer community. We celebrate their good will, empathy for others and dedication to the cause of keeping Pittwater a truly beautiful place to live.

On behalf of our community I thank all of you for giving your time and compassion to making our lives safer and a little easier.

Tomorrow our nation will celebrate International Volunteers Day. 6.1 million Australians are in some form of voluntary work. IN Pittwater 21% of our community are volunteers.  

In the National Survey of Volunteering conducted by Volunteering Australia the two most frequently mentioned things volunteers valued most about their volunteering experience was: 

“The difference I make to the community” and “The sense of purpose it gives me.”

Tonight is our opportunity to salute our local Volunteer Organisations and those that work with them in varied worthwhile roles.

Volunteering helps us gain new skills and knowledge, it gives us a sense of achievement and fulfilment and for some boosts self-esteem. It aids in our mental and physical well-being and, you are never alone.

This room is filled with friends, associates and partners formed through volunteering.

This year we saw an early start to the Bushfire season. Many were taken by surprise at the sheer size and number of fires burning across our metropolitan area. 

Tonight I’d like to highlight and acknowledge the very important work done by our Rural Fire Service Volunteers from Warringah – Pittwater District in assisting others during these recent fires. 

From September to November they have attended local incidents such as the Barrenjoey Headland Fire,  the Maitland Street fire and the Mona Vale Tanker disaster as well as provided assistance across the state, reaching north to Taree and as west as Scone. 

Our Warringah-Pittwater RFS team deployed over 1415 personnel from 15 brigades into the field outside of their area. I’d just like to give you some idea of the man power involved during the intensity of fires in October. There were two strike teams of six appliances, a group officer for two shifts per day with a total of 12 units manned (totalling around 70 fire-fighters per shift). This was maintained until 3 November.  

And the volunteering wasn’t limited to those who fought fires… there were also volunteers in Planning, Operations, Public Liaison, Media Liaison, Community Liaison, logistics and management support.  

When you realise the amount of man/woman – power needed in behind-the-scenes roles occupied by volunteers during a crises, it is quire eye opening! It is truly an inspiration to know that so many people contribute to communities in need at times of crisis. 

At the Pittwater Business Limited breakfast this morning I had the opportunity of hearing the N.S.W. Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons speak of the dedication of all RFS Volunteers.

 MR. Fitzsimmons said 216 homes had been destroyed in the Blue Mountains and Port Stephens areas. Another 200 homes were damaged, businesses were lost and many others affected. 

He said, “Volunteering is alive and well across New South Wales, especially by our Youth. Thee are 9000 under the age of 25 with 800-900 Cadets in our schools.” 

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said of our volunteers, “Together they serve and protect our community. We would be absolutely lost if they did not give their time for the want of nothing.

I spoke with Shane after the breakfast and told him that Pittwater Council was making a special mention to our local RFS volunteers this evening. He asked me to pass on to them his gratitude and congratulate the Warringah-Pittwater RFS crews who he saw in Port Stephens, the Blue Mountains and Mt. Wilson among other fires attended.  They gave their time for the wider community ad he commended them for their service.

To the many RFS personnel who are representing their respective units here tonight, we thank you.  

Representatives from the RFS with gift from the Mayor thanking them for their assistance with the 2013 fires

It would be remiss of me not to mention our other crisis fighters, the State Emergency Service(SES), who are here this evening. 

It seemed we were still in the grips of the fires when the storms and wet weather took hold. You too were there to pick up the pieces and aid our community. 

Thank you!  

Tonight you stand shoulder to shoulder with other like-minded individuals, whether they be in the field of providing respite to families in need or caring for our bushland, our youth community or our coastline each and every one of you contribute to making Pittwater a wonderful place to live. 

Our volunteers are valued and Pittwater Council knows too well the time you give is invaluable to us all. 

I am please to announce that recently one of our loved volunteers, Marita McCrae OAM was acknowledged with the Ruth Readford Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2013 Annual Coastal Management Awards.  

As Marita was not able to attend the Awards Ceremony, we’d like to present it to her this evening. 

Thank you Cr. Griffith and congratulations once again, Marita. 

Our Pittwater Citizen of the Year Eric Martel spoke last week at our Citizenship Ceremony of the meaningful impact volunteering has had on his life, in particular the outcomes he achieved as a volunteer with APEX. The legacy of this group of volunteers today includes APEX Park at Mona Vale Beach.

We should all share the benefits of volunteering with others and invite them to in this special and dedicated group here in Pittwater and our Northern Beaches region.

On behalf of Pittwater, I commend you who every day take time to make our community a better place.