Volunteer Day - The Public Holiday

Next week in Victoria we have Monday as a public holiday to celebrate the Queens Birthday.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and Greens leader Richard Di Natale both support, like Mr Turnbull, an Australian republic with the Labor leader promising to make it happen within a decade.

The South Australian Government  has also proclaimed a special day in volunteers honour. Volunteers Day is now celebrated on the Queen's Birthday public holiday every year.

The matter of whether Australia should become a Republic is a matter for the Australian people to decide. The point of this blog is not to argue for either side but to look at some possibilities.

For example I think what the south Australian government has done is to be commended. And I believe other states and territories should consider the same approach.

Volunteering is vital to our country with over six million people volunteering. But why have a public holiday to mark volunteering?

Labor Day is a day set aside to pay tribute to working men and women. For many countries, "Labor Day" is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May.

International Volunteer Day  (December 5) is an international observance designated by the United Nations since 1985. It offers an opportunity for volunteer organizations and individual volunteers to make visible their contributions - at local, national and international levels - to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

We also celebrate National Volunteer Week during the month of May in Australia.

But consider if IVD and National Volunteer Week, as worthy as the days are, are in our public psyche. Do they cause a surge in volunteering? Do they raise the profile of volunteering to the many people who never consider volunteering as an option in their busy lives?

Imagine what a national public holiday called “Volunteer Day” could achieve? Here are a few things that could happen.

What do most people do on the Queens birthday? They have the day off and it’s a long weekend to look forward to. We have barbeques and get together with families.

Imagine a campaign where we ask everyone to volunteer on that day. Especially people who may never have volunteered before. It could just be for a few hours or a day. It would not bind people to commit but rather give people an experience of volunteering. And if they love it, which I am sure many would, they could come back to volunteering. Imagine the impact this could have on the volunteering sector. Imagine the water cooler conversation on the Friday with people asking “So where are you volunteering on Monday?”

The day could also be marked with Volunteer parades in city’s and towns around the country. As a nation we love our marching bands and we could line the streets to celebrate those true hero’s in our communities.

Each year we could have The Volunteers speech on ABC. A volunteer addressing the nation on how their volunteering impacts the community and makes a difference in their own lives. A speech delivered by different and diverse volunteers each year.

A public holiday on volunteering will be a day that truly impacts every Australian. It has the opportunity to galvanize the public into action and its innovation will be recognized around the globe and hopefully copied.

Some day Australia may become a Republic. If that day comes can we consider the Volunteer Day public holiday? The potential is there and the upshot for our sector could be huge!

Enjoy your long weekend!


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