Volunteers form the backbone of many events and organisations across our city and without them many of these events simply would not take place, but today there are real fears that’s exactly what could happen as volunteer numbers drop.
With the merger of the NSW Far West Small Business Association and Broken Hill Centre for Community now well underway, questions are being asked about the future of volunteer organisations across Broken Hill and the Far West.
Secretary of the Small Business Association, Jack Dickson, says, “while the merger is a great thing for our members and our community, it is true to say that the merger has been necessitated by the lack of volunteers who were willing to come onto our board and executive once myself, the President, and the Treasurer, were due to retire at the next Annual General Meeting.
“I feel that, consistent with so many organisations throughout Broken Hill, that the community needs to help volunteer organisations by supporting those groups and volunteering for them, or they risk losing those groups forever. And these are groups which provide valuable and immeasurable support for our communities,” Mr Dickson said.
As always, volunteer groups are doing everything they can to secure new volunteers, and it is a fact that many events held in our community have attracted lower than anticipated attendance in recent years.
Community events are, by their nature, held for the benefit of the entire community to come together, to collaborate, to organise, and ultimately to undertake the necessary work to improve our city. These events are generally organised by volunteers – people with jobs or businesses, with families and hobbies, who selflessly dedicate their time and energy on bringing these beneficial events to the community, for the community.
“Unfortunately, the reality is these type of community events can no longer be held if sufficient support is not available from the community,” says Mr Dickson
“In a post-Covid world, we are seeing very high levels of fatigue and burnout, and so our volunteer numbers have certainly been lacking,” Mr Dickson added.
“Difficult decisions are being made right now on what organisations will remain, and what organisations will fold, and once these decisions are made, they will reverberate around our community forever.”
Frankee Baldwin, who is a former President of the local Lions Club, told the Barrier Truth that “Broken Hill is so lucky to have so many volunteer-ran organisations, but volunteer numbers have slowly been dropping, which I think is being felt by most service clubs.”
Ms Baldwin added, “I believe our lives are becoming increasingly busy, which makes volunteering tricky, but I think by creating a greater understanding of what volunteers in the Broken Hill community do and how we help that, maybe more people may be inclined to put their hands up.”
“If are able to help in any capacity, if it’s throwing an idea around, lending a hand to sell raffle tickets, cooking a BBQ, these small things add up and allow service clubs to help our local community,” Ms Baldwin says.
Will the community continue to support and back volunteers and their events, or will the community now start to witness the disintegration of the community spirit which underpins the united we stand mantra? That is for everyone to decide.