Regeneration and cultural development a healthy focus

Regeneration and cultural development a healthy focus

She knew what she wanted from a young age. Bernadette had an interest in cultural development and wanted to be part of a proactive community.

“I wanted to learn new skills and find meaningful and productive ways to express myself and promote culture in my community,” she said.

Bernadette Boscacci started volunteering at 4TTT Community Radio in 1983 as High School Program Coordinator. She went on to volunteer with the Youth Network, Palm Creek Festival and the Golden Bee Project where she continues to volunteer.

“I got to travel to Sweden in 2017 to represent Golden Bee Australia in an International Art Market in Stockholm,” Bernadette said.

Now also volunteering at Mundy Creek Landcare (CDTLI), Garbutt & Kowanyama Culture & Research Centre, in Kowanyama and remotely, Bernadette cites the regeneration of Mundy Creek Garbutt as one of the many highlights of her volunteering story.

“It’s very satisfying to see the continued growth of the trees we planted and all the benefits that flow from this – the birds and animals that visit or inhabit the area, the increased shade and physical beauty,” she said.

“I am particularly proud of the work I have lead at Mundy Creek. Also, the production of Alma Luke’s Bush Medicine Book which fulfilled an elder woman’s longstanding aspiration to write and publish a book for her community and the world about the healing powers of her traditional lands and its natural resources.”

“Whenever I become involved in community and contribute my skills and time to activities and projects that I know help to make the world a better, happier place to live in, I experience increased health and well-being. I meet many amazing people and experience a myriad of things that I would not otherwise experience had I stayed at home and focussed on my own small world.

“Volunteering is about making a commitment to something bigger than ourselves and our own insular world. When we work together collaboratively and collectively, opportunities arise, we achieve goals and our lives and communities are changed and enriched.

In short, it has brought me new and valuable relationships, opened my mind, toned my muscles, honed my skills and gladdened my heart.”

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Caring for the land helps this volunteer develop social skills

Caring for the land helps this volunteer develop social skills

Learning about the nursery, weeding and washing pots out was all it took for Levi to fall in love with caring for the land.

In Year 10 at high school, as part of the Work Readiness program to prepare for work after school, Levi Carlton had to choose a Volunteer position. He started volunteering in January 2015 with Landcare, Bundaberg through the Bundaberg Special School.

He is now volunteering at Landcare Townsville, and completing a 20-week Traineeship with CVA.

“Landcare has a Nursery and it is open to the Public on Fridays, I like helping people to choose their plants, “ he said.

He currently does various things within the nursery and also roams to various sites.

“Everyone is friendly and we all pitch in and help each other. I love being in the outdoors and being part of the environment, I like to use my kayak sometimes and clean the rubbish in the river.”

Levi said there have been a lot of highlights over the years in volunteering.

“An achievement or contribution that I am most proud of is using recycled timber from an old picnic table and creating a tea/coffee table from it for the Landcare Nursery Townsville,” he said.

I have a disability and I have always been withdrawn from others and never liked to be the one to strike up a conversation, he said.

“Volunteering has helped me socialise. I have found over the years of volunteering that I have become more self-confident and gained a wealth of knowledge and I am learning new things all the time.

“I find Volunteering for Landcare at times can be a calming tool for me.”

Anyone considering volunteering should just go for it, he says.

“It makes you feel good and worthwhile when you’re out in the environment and meeting new friends, there are always different things happening and new things to learn,” he said.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Volunteer with a big heart making a difference

Volunteer with a big heart making a difference

Having a cuppa with seniors is one of Lori Langford’s favourite things to do.

Lori started volunteering because she said she wanted to connect with people as well as improve her work skills.

First volunteering with the Endeavour Foundation in retail, she then moved on to the North Townsville Community Hub in Deeragun where she wears many hats – cleaner, flood recovery worker, child minder, events coordinator and social media advocate, all whilst providing much needed emotional support.

“It’s an amazing experience to see the kids learn various skills when we have school holiday programs.”

Lori said volunteering at North Townsville Community Hub really fulfilled her. “They are willing to teach me operating procedures; they allow me to try different job duties while providing training and support. They are encouraging, uplifting, and very supportive,” she said.

“My goal for a while has been to try and get our Seniors Cuppa Chat numbers up and August 2nd we had 25 in attendance. Our desire is to help our seniors combat loneliness so that they can live happier more fulfilling lives. Getting the numbers up has been extremely satisfying.”                                                    

“Goodness, it’s hard to pick a highlight of my volunteering experience however I would say being able to help folks with basic needs during the floods was definitely a highpoint,” she said.

Lori said she enjoyed being able to make a difference in people’s lives. It is clear she has done that, receiving The Heart of Volunteering Award at the 2019 NQ Volunteer of the Year Awards.

Her advice for anyone considering volunteering is quite simple.

“Look for an organisation that interests you, apply for volunteer work and get in there and give it your all because they really need the help and bloom where you’re planted.”

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Our top picks for how YOU can support your community during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our top picks for how YOU can support your community during the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 is causing great upheaval in our society. The physical distancing restrictions necessary to prevent the virus spreading are causing considerable financial and social stress to many sectors and groups within our communities. If you, however, find yourself with a bit of time on your hands, wondering how you can make a difference, here are our top 8 tips:

  1. Give Blood:

Whilst blood isn’t necessarily required to treat COVID-19 patients, Australia still needs 29,000 blood donations every week to maintain supply for a variety of uses. Lives depend on donated blood, it helps people recover from surgery, accidents and even cancer. Regular blood donors may be self-isolating if they are in vulnerable groups so it’s up to the rest of us to bridge the gap. If you are generally well and healthy check out how to donate here https://www.donateblood.com.au/one-step-closer

  1. Support food banks and charities:

As more people face financial hardship and food insecurity, these organisations will be relied upon more than ever to support people in need. Usual fundraising activities have been curtailed reducing their ability to maintain their community service delivery. If at all financially possible keep up your donations to local charities, not forgetting our furry friends who are facing hardship and food shortages.

  1. Support local businesses:

The best way to keep people employed is for the public to keep buying businesses products/services. Restaurants, cafes and other discretionary goods providers are going to be hardest hit by the pandemic as people stop spending. When cafes are open for takeaway for example, it is important that people still buy their goods so they can stay open and minimise job losses and economic hardship. Another way to help businesses is to buy gift cards and give yourself something to look forward to when you are cashing them in with your friends.

  1. Bolster the volunteer pool:

We are seeing some volunteers reduce their usual involvement, especially if they are in a particularly vulnerable group or have to provide increased support for family and friends. Whilst some not-for-profit activity is on hold, other volunteer roles are now in higher demand such as community transport, community visitor schemes, shopping trip support etc. Food banks and other community delivery services will also need more drivers as well as cooks to keep up with rising demand and adaptation of services that perhaps were provided in a community centre setting. Restrictions change daily and we will endeavour to keep our volunteer opportunity database up to date. https://www.vnq.org.au/quick-search/

  1. Virtual Vollies:

Volunteering online is a great way of helping the community while still adhering to self-isolation or social distancing requirements. It is just like working online, all you need is a computer and internet and you can volunteer your time and talents from your home. There are all sorts of volunteer opportunities that can be done online such as writing thank-you letters to web design and more. Even if you don’t consider yourself computer-savvy there will be opportunities to do check in phone calls to people who are more socially isolated than ever.

  1. Write a note or a letter to someone you do or don’t know:

It sounds simple but what a great way to connect with a neighbour, friend or older relative during this time. There are a lot of aged care facilities imposing visitor restrictions to reduce the risk to our older Australians who would love to hear from you! Why not encourage the children to write a letter to their grandparents/aunts/uncles complete with artwork masterpieces. Here are two great resources that you can use and distribute around your street or local neighbourhood.

https://www.townsville.qld.gov.au/about-townsville/living-in-townsville/being-neighbourly https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10163194559985324&set=gm.582700855665916&type=3&theater&ifg=1

  1. Check out your local Community Radio station

Community radio stations have their finger on the pulse in your local community and bring a rich mix of culture and entertainment that you will find refreshing in these trying times. Community radio stations also depend heavily on volunteers and local support especially from businesses who are also doing it tough and may have to withdraw or downsize their financial contributions. By engaging with these community groups we are demonstrating our solidarity in supporting services that mean a lot to listeners who are doing it tough. So tune in! https://www.triplet.com.au/       

  1. Look after your community by looking after yourself

If you find yourself in lockdown why not try 14 ways in 14 days, a Corona Connection Chain Campaign initiated by the Kindness Kommunity. Focussing on what you can do rather than what you can’t is a useful mindset shift to improve mental health and resilience. Check out some ideas that the people of Townsville have been coming up with… ukulele anyone? #14for14campaign https://www.facebook.com/thekindnesskommunity/

Rest assured, Volunteering North Queensland is working closely with our not-for-profit members in this unprecedented time to gather information on what the volunteering sector needs right now so we can provide well thought out, targeted support. We will be updating our volunteering opportunities to reflect the changing nature and needs of the community. In the meantime, we need you to look after you. 

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Postponement of NQ Volunteer Conference 2020

Postponement of NQ Volunteer Conference 2020

Following advice from Queensland Health and Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy on the COVID-19 virus relating to large gatherings of people, the management committee has made the difficult decision to postpone our inaugural NQ Volunteer Conference that was scheduled for 22-24 May 2020.

This was an extremely hard decision considering the work, effort and resources already committed to the event but the health and well-being of our communities are ultimately our main priority.

The management committee and the rest of the Volunteering North Queensland team are currently looking into potential dates and delivery platforms to bring this great event to you.

We will endeavour to update all delegates, sponsors and other stakeholders with information personally and directly over the coming weeks. Thank you in advance for your understanding and we continue to be humbled by your support.

Volunteer Consultations
In response to our changing social and economical landscape, Volunteering North Queensland is cancelling all face to face volunteer consultations until further notice. We are still accepting Expressions of Interest and we are conducting volunteer consultations over the telephone. We are liaising with our not-for-profit member organisations and working hard to respond to the needs of our community and keep volunteering well and truly alive; at a time when Queenslanders need it most.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Possible funding opportunity to attend the NQ Volunteer Conference!

Possible funding opportunity to attend the NQ Volunteer Conference!

Would you or your organisation benefit from some funding to help you attend the North Queensland Volunteer Conference?

There is an opportunity to apply for a possible grant of $5,000 through Townsville City Council’s Social Grants and Partnerships if you act quickly. To receive the funding approval in time to attend the North Queensland Volunteer Conference, you will need to apply now.

About the TCC Grant:
Assessment Timeframes Grants $5,000 and under:

  • Apply at any time but note you will need to act quickly to receive the funding approval in time to attend the North Queensland Volunteer Conference.
  • Once an application is lodged and is deemed eligible and complete by Council, the assessment time period of 4 weeks will commence.

Please note that the initiative you are seeking support for must not commence sooner than 2 weeks after the stated assessment timeframe.

For more information or if you have any questions in reference to TCC Social Grants and Partnerships please contact the Community Grants Team direct on 13 48 10 or email the Townsville City Council Community Grants team.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

2020 NQ Volunteering Awards Open

2020 NQ Volunteering Awards Open

The third year of the North Queensland Volunteer of the Year Awards will again occur in National Volunteer Week 18-24 May 2020. The event will be inclusive of the inaugural NQ Volunteer Conference at the Gala dinner on Saturday, the 23rd of May 2020.
 
These awards acknowledge the contributions volunteers make throughout our community through their generosity, compassion and commitment to making a difference:
 
Heart of Volunteering Award
The heart of volunteering award acknowledges a volunteer who personifies the definition of volunteering, “…time is willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.” Nominations for volunteers whose attitude and actions are exemplary and an inspiration to others are welcomed.
 
Youth Volunteering Award
The Youth Volunteering award acknowledges a volunteer under 25 years of age a volunteer who personifies the definition of volunteering, ‘…time is willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.’ Nominations for volunteers whose attitude and actions are exemplary and an inspiration to others are welcomed.
 
Volunteer Impact Award
The Volunteer Impact award acknowledges a volunteer whose contribution has made a significant difference to an individual, group or community over a short or long period of time. Nominations for volunteers who have made a significant difference in the lives of those they serve are welcomed.
 
Volunteer Achievement Award
The Volunteer Achievement award acknowledges a volunteer for whom the very act of volunteering is an achievement. Nominations are welcomed for volunteers who give their time in the face of challenging circumstances, either personal, or the activities undertaken.
 
We encourage leaders of volunteers and co-volunteers to nominate, including previously nominated volunteers, who you believe are deserving of recognition for their volunteering contribution.
 
The closing date for nominations is Monday 29 March 2020. Nominees will be shortlisted and announced at the NQ Volunteer Conference Gala Dinner. Nominate here.
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Registrations Now Open!

Registrations Now Open!

We are excited to announce the NQVC 2020 is now on sale for “Early Bird” registrations. We encourage you to take advantage of our Early Bird rate. Secure your place for the inaugural North Queensland Volunteer Conference 2020 here: https://www.vnq.org.au/conference/.

Need help to fund your attendance? Check with your organisation or local council to see what grant funding opportunities may be available to assist with registration, accommodation and transport costs.

Our accommodation partner; Rydges Southbank, conveniently also the Conference venue, has provided us with a fantastic bed and breakfast rate for Conference delegates. We encourage you to take advantage of this great offer and secure your accommodation. With a NQ Cowboys home game over the Conference weekend, accommodation across Townsville will be at a premium.

VNQ Manager, Shane Harris said, “One of the many highlights of the conference weekend will be a Civic Reception to welcome delegates, hosted by the Mayor of Townsville, on Friday evening 22 May.”

Shane continued ”We are grateful for the support we are receiving to help us bring the NQVC to you from our generous partners; QLD Government, Townsville City Council, Rydges Southbank, Northern Stevedoring Services, South32, Wilmar Sugar, Sisters of the North and Pajingo Gold Mine. More partners will be announced as they come on board.”

In our next update, we will announce Keynote Speakers, Workshop topics plus a few surprises…

If you would like more information about the NQVC 2020, contact Kim, our North Queensland Volunteer Conference 2020 Event Manager.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

15-year-old Trayeden Fulmer’s initiative helps community in need

15-year-old Trayeden Fulmer’s initiative helps community in need

With communities across much of Australia impacted by bushfires and memories still fresh in our minds of the unprecedented monsoonal event that caused Townsville’s flooding in 2019, the remarkable contribution of volunteers in times of need never fails to inspire.

Who will ever forget the images of the fire blackened faces of the volunteers tirelessly and selflessly battling the recent bushfires, or those showing the brave volunteers wading through rising floodwaters to rescue people from their homes in Townsville? These inspiring volunteers have touched us and left us in awe of their community spirit.

During this anniversary of the monsoonal event, let’s also remember the many unseen individuals who stepped up and made a difference in our community. Here is the story of one such individual, Trayeden Fulmer, just 15-years old at the time. [Photo above L to R: Trayeden Fulmer and his social media based task force team].

It was in February 2019 while assisting a friend with the cleanup of his property following the severe weather event that Trayeden showed great initiative and found a way to help the many residents requiring assistance.

Trayeden explains I was motivated to create a Facebook group that soon become a platform for people to offer their time to assist with the clean up as well as providing an avenue for residents to reach out for help. The Facebook group played an important role in helping Townsville clean up and recover. I believe the group showed the true Australian spirit that lives within us all and eased the burden on the individuals who had their homes inundated.

My time coordinating my group of volunteers and the clean up efforts was an amazing experience. The willingness of the volunteers mixed with the gratefulness of the residents we were able to help was an emotionally filled time and is something I will cherish for the rest of my life. The smiles we were able to put on the faces of those who had just lost everything, and the comradery amongst the community, was a highlight, and something I am extremely proud of. That I was able to have such an impact on the community at such a young age is one of the greatest achievements of my life and it has given me a sense of pride within my community.

My journey as a volunteer has allowed me to grow significantly as a person. There were some emotionally hard times after seeing the destruction caused by the floods and seeing so many sentimental items lost was mentally tough to experience as a 15-year-old. It has taught me so much; how to positively contribute to others, how to communicate with people and provide support during such an emotional time and it gave me purpose as I was able to work toward a positive cause!”

To anyone considering volunteering, my advice is, just give it a go. As a 15-year-old, I never thought my actions could help so many people and support a community but I discovered any contribution, no matter how big or small, could change the life of someone. The feeling you get after helping someone is indescribable, so just give it a go. You won’t regret it!

If you are interested in helping out at times of need, register your interest at Subscribe to connect with organisations providing coordinated activities.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Physical & cognitive health benefits of volunteering

Physical & cognitive health benefits of volunteering

Volunteering has a wide range of benefits that can affect many aspects of our lives. Although when we think of volunteering we may think of social and mental health benefits, it can also benefit us physically and cognitively.

The type of physical benefit depends on the type of volunteering you do and whether it is self-orientated or other-orientated (1).

  • Self-orientated volunteering can provide more direct physical benefits
  • Other-orientated volunteering impacts mental and social well-being which leads to physical benefits

Self-orientated volunteering is often driven by desires for self-enhancement and self-actualization (1). These volunteering roles will involve more physical, cultural and career activities and can be found in cultural/recreation, environment, law/politics and business/professional services sectors (1).

Other-orientated volunteering is motivated by altruistic and humanitarian ideals that inspire people to help others (1). It enhances interpersonal relationships, supportive networks, sense of making a difference and meaning in life (1). These roles can be found in the health, education, religious groups, human services and youth development sectors (1).

Although on the face of it, it may seem like self-orientated volunteering may maximise physical health for participants, the health benefits of other-orientated volunteering cannot be discounted (1). Increased social wellbeing is one of the main benefits of other-orientated volunteering. Research shows it can lead to a multitude of other health improving effects.  Volunteering has been shown to help with (2):

  • stress(2),
  • family functioning (2),
  • social support and interaction (2),
  • psychological distress (2),
  • satisfaction and quality of life(2),
  • physical activity(2)
  • dementia (2)

Volunteering has been shown to increase memory and executive functioning and can therefore help prevent dementia onset.  Executive functions are important aspects of people’s cognitive ability as it enables them to exert self-control, pay attention, enhance working memory and cognitive flexibility, such as thinking outside the box (3). In particular, greater improvements with cognitive dysfunction have been shown through tests such as task switching, verbal learning and memory as well as cognitive control tests in those who volunteer compared with non-volunteers (2).

The reduced risk of dementia has been quantified at 2.44 times (4). Volunteering needs to be regular, with at least one hour per week for benefits to materialize (4). The exact mechanism of how volunteering reduces the risk of dementia is still being debated by experts (2). However, some theories conclude that volunteering leads to social and cognitive benefits by providing the structure and social interaction that retirees had during their career (4). Another important aspect is that feeling appreciated amplifies the physical and cognitive benefits of volunteering. (5)

 The physical benefits of volunteering are persuasive, particularly for older adults. The benefits are 2.5 times greater for those over 60 years old then for younger people. The increased physical activity in their daily lives led to a wide range of health benefits such as (6):

  • less hypertension (6)
  • fewer hip fractures (6)
  • lower frequency of hospitalization (2)
  • ability to cope with their own illnesses (2)
  • adoption of healthy lifestyle and drinking practices (2)
  • greater ability to carry out activities for daily living (2)

One of the most important benefits is a reduction in the mortality rate. Volunteering is associated with a 24% reduction in mortality risk for older adults, even when adjusted for 11 other variables, such as socio-demographic, economic, lifestyle and physical and mental health factors that may affect mortality (6). Volunteers often report increased social wellbeing and interaction, delivering many benefits (7). The social wellbeing effects of volunteering have even been found to buffer the effects of stressful life events on mortality over a 6 year period (6).  

Volunteering can deliver a multitude of benefits, many that until recently we did not understand or know about. It is now evident that volunteering is good for not just the mind but the body as well, particularly for older people. Volunteering is not just great for the community but also for the volunteer. If you would like to experience the health benefits and maybe live a little longer, you can start your volunteering story today by searching available opportunities that suit you and your interests.

References:

  1. Yeung, J., Zhang, Z., & Kim, T. (2017). Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health18(1). doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4561-8
  2. Casiday, R., Kinsman, E., Fisher, C., & Bambra, C. (2019). Volunteering and Health: What Impact Does It Really Have?. Volunteering England.
  3. Diamond, A. (2013). Executive Functions. Annual Review Of Psychology64(1), 135-168. doi: 10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750
  4. Volunteering can reduce dementia risk in seniors, study finds. (2019). Retrieved 28 August 2019, from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-05-volunteering-dementia-seniors.html
  5. McMUNN, A., NAZROO, J., WAHRENDORF, M., BREEZE, E., & ZANINOTTO, P. (2009). Participation in socially-productive activities, reciprocity and wellbeing in later life: baseline results in England. Ageing And Society29(5), 765-782. doi: 10.1017/s0144686x08008350
  6. Anderson, N. D., Damianakis, T., Kröger, E., Wagner, L. M., Dawson, D. R., Binns, M. A.,Bernstein, S., Caspi, E., Cook, S. L., & The BRAVO Team (2014, August 25). The Benefits Associated With Volunteering Among Seniors: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Future Research. Psychological Bulletin. Advance online publication. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0037610                                                            
  7. Jenkinson, C., Dickens, A., Jones, K., Thompson-Coon, J., Taylor, R., & Rogers, M. et al. (2013). Is volunteering a public health intervention? A systematic review and meta-analysis of the health and survival of volunteers. BMC Public Health13(1). doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-773
Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn