As is the case with many charities, their work is only possible with the selfless support of volunteers. They are certainly the foundation of Carry On’s ability to offer the service we do, so we relish the chance to celebrate them in National Volunteer Week. This annual week of recognition will be held from the 20th to the 26th May, highlighting the importance of volunteers and their tireless dedication to the community. 

National Volunteer Week’s theme for 2024 is ‘Something for Everyone’. It really encapsulates the diverse range of things volunteers can get involved in, allowing them to share their personal interests while supporting people who may share those interests too. At its grassroots, volunteering is about recognising skills we have and choosing to share those skills with others. The impact on those being supported by volunteers is of course significant, but being able to share those skills or interests in a meaningful way can be transformative for all involved.  

The volunteering experience however is not all warm fuzzy feelings, branded t-shirts, and hugs. It comes with highs and lows and is done in a range of conditions and contexts that might be uncomfortable, confronting or challenging. In most cases it’s done selflessly with little or no reward, which is why celebrating volunteers is so important! Creating space for them to be recognised allows them to see that their time has been valued and well spent. It also validates their contribution and reminds them they are a critical part of the cycle of support.  

 It takes a special kind of person to volunteer. They need to be generous and caring, yet practical and resilient. They need to be flexible yet reliable, and strong but empathetic. They work extraordinarily hard, without payment and often with no recognition, aside from a casual thank you. The dedication to helping others without praise or compensation for time or energy is remarkable and is what makes volunteers the unsung heroes of the community. 

Volunteers are in fact so important that stakeholders across the country have worked together to develop the National Strategy for Volunteering. This will ensure volunteers are set up for success over the next ten years and beyond and that the volunteering ecosystem will continue to thrive in the years to come. Part of that strategy includes the Volunteering in Australia research project in 2022 that provides some great insights into the sector. There were over 1200 participants in the research and collectively they stated more than 50% of them had up to 250 volunteers involved with their organisations. Almost a third of these organisations exist to support people in the community services, welfare and homelessness sector, making volunteering vital to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. This research was conducted just after the height of the pandemic and interestingly, it found that more than 80% of the organisations had volunteers providing support in-person. The nature of their activities was also pretty fundamental with volunteering work being done on boards and committees, in accounting, finance, administration and management, and on fundraising, sales and events.   

As mentioned previously, volunteers are the backbone of Carry On’s work and it’s people like Lorna that we cannot do without. Lorna has been volunteering since her teens, with a focus on helping children in care and homeless people. Initially she wanted to help bring joy to others during the festive season, but realised she could also set a great example to her own children by helping others in need. “With my background in the homelessness sector, I felt compelled to help. To my surprise, someone recommended contacting Carry On, an organisation that supports veterans, their families, and war widows like me”. Says Lorna. Curiosity led me to find out more and I was astounded by their incredible work. Discovering they had initiatives near me, I applied to become a volunteer, eager to utilise the skills, experience, and knowledge accumulated throughout my life”. Lorna is one of Carry On’s most valued volunteers, making fortnightly home visits to veterans in her role as the Housing Manager and Welfare Manager. “Volunteering is an avenue to connect with individuals I may never have crossed paths with otherwise. Throughout my volunteering journey, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting extraordinary people who have become dear friends”. 


National Volunteer Week (20th – 26th May) is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. To get involved you can share your story if you’re currently a volunteer, or send a Certificate of Appreciation to a volunteer you know to thank them for their work. If you want to show your support for volunteers in general, there is a range of merchandise available in the Volunteering Australia online store to purchase and wear proudly throughout National Volunteer Week.  

This special event is an opportunity to highlight the important role of volunteers in our community and invites people not currently volunteering to give it a go. 

Find out more about volunteering at Carry On, or contact us to register your interest.