VOLUNTEERS: Australia is blessed with an amazing collection from all walks of life who should be thanked for what they do every day ... but especially now as we mark National Volunteer Week.
Unlike accolades for our unsung heroes in previous years, this year we are being asked to Wave Your Appreciation for volunteers by sharing a photo of yourself waving your hand of thanks using the hashtags #NVW2020 and #waveforvolunteers.
The Australian spirit has been tested as we have dealt with devastating droughts, fires, floods and a global pandemic that will change the way we live.
Throughout these trying times we have been supported by resilient volunteers who dedicate their time to help others.
While many of us have stayed home for our own wellbeing, volunteers in essential services have remained on the frontline - packing food deliveries, checking in on the elderly, supporting families and helping others through these tough times.
In an ordinary year, a third (31%) of Australians volunteer their time, contributing 128 hours to the community.
This year, however, volunteers have been called on to go above and beyond.
Volunteering Australia chief executive Adrienne Picone says this extraordinarily challenging year has shone a spotlight on the power of the unpaid workforce in Australia.
"With such need, we are working hard to promote safe and effective volunteer working conditions and encourage volunteer involving organisations to do the same," she said.
"It is more important than ever that we thank and recognise volunteers this National Volunteer Week (May 18-24)."
Alongside the emergency volunteers, many volunteers have been stood down due to age, health concerns or volunteer programs being suspended.
However, while face-to-face or event volunteering is put on hold, Ms Picone says there are still other ways people can donate their time.
She said some organisations are seeking volunteers with roles such as community support, telephone volunteers, delivery drivers and digital mentors currently advertised on the GoVolunteer website.
"It's important for people to remember that once COVID-19 restrictions lift, most volunteering programs will resume as normal and will be actively re-engaging with their volunteers and possibly seeking new volunteers,"
National Volunteer Week is supported by Aon Australia as the exclusive sponsor.