National Volunteer Week in Nillumbik

Words by Nillumbik Council and CopperLine

As part of National Volunteer Week 2023, Nillumbik Shire Council acknowledged and celebrated the invaluable contribution volunteers make to Nillumbik, on Wednesday 24 May.

It was a full house at the Eltham Community and Reception Centre as a cross section of volunteers came together. We recognised the good will, optimism and hard work our volunteers contribute to the community.  

Volunteers help to make our community a more connected, safer, resilient and inclusive place to live. They turn their passion into purpose by serving across a range of Council programs, community groups, services, facilities, clubs, causes and organisations.

We heard from brilliant speakers Ellen Gould (Nillumbik Young Woman of the Year 2023) and Vicky Shukuroglou (Nillumbio and Friends of Biodiversity Hohnes Hill), and Wurundjeri man Daniel Ross who welcomed attendees to Country.

The year’s theme was ‘The Change Makers’; recognising how volunteers drive positive change.  

Vicky Shukuroglou is a local change maker in several arenas. One example is successfully arranging the conservation of soils and plant-life excavated as part of the Fitzsimons Lane and Main Road intersection redevelopment, that otherwise would have been treated as spoil.  Vicky strongly believes that resilient communities don’t just happen, they must be created and continually fostered.  And that there are great opportunities for cross pollination between community groups for learning from each other and creating the community and environment that benefits this green wedge shire and greater Melbourne.

Mayor Ben Ramcharan said “Nillumbik has long enjoyed high rates of volunteerism, which is a wonderful reflection on the sense of community that runs through our Shire,” Cr Ramcharan said. “A new generation of volunteers are now discovering the benefits of getting involved, building on this strong culture of community-giving.”

“From Nillumbik’s L2P driving program and Community Transport, to Friends of Reserves, In-Home Family Mentors, and pre-schools’ Committees of Management – to name just a few – our volunteer programs are broad-ranging and have a positive impact we can all be truly proud of,” he said.

It is also the case that volunteer numbers are lower in some areas.  Some activities that ran before pandemic lockdowns have since had to be cancelled or reduced because of lack of volunteers.  They include school programs that now lack parent volunteers and community events such as the Eltham mud brick tour which was in person and is now online only.  All the more reason to celebrate our currently active volunteers.