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Posted on 15/05/2020 by Phillip Island Nature Parks

Volunteers change communities, change lives


This National Volunteer Week Phillip Island Nature Parks acknowledges our wonderful volunteers who are currently staying home to keep our wider community safe. This year’s theme celebrates how volunteers change communities and change lives. This could not be more relevant after the bushfires and coronavirus (COVID-19) where we have seen volunteers in communities across Australia come together to support people and wildlife.

Volunteering Australia has shifted this special week’s activities online and recommends that individuals consider issues of privacy and self-care and avoid putting themselves and others in the community at risk. This means adhering to recommended physical distancing guidelines and other official guidance.

Nature Parks volunteers are playing their part by patiently waiting at home until it is safe for them to return to their vital roles and we thank them for their understanding and support during this time. This simple action will ultimately be one of their most important contributions to the Nature Parks and the Victorian community.

Staying home is strengthening connections as they check in with each other, stay connected online and protect nature in their own little patch of green. A number of the volunteer team will celebrate National Volunteer Week by tuning in to virtual get-togethers hosted by the Nature Parks.

Cheryl Bradford has been volunteering for over 20 years and has been at the Bushbank for much of this time. She says that she is currently missing the friendships, enjoyment of the plants and learning new skills. “It’s a nice feeling - volunteering and seeing tangible results,” she said.

Cheryl will still be celebrating National Volunteer Week by attempting to join one of the planned online catch-ups. She’s been calling lots of friends to stay in touch and successfully attended her first virtual get-together with her family last week for Mother’s Day.

The Nature Parks’ team of 296 volunteers contributed more than 14,600 hours last year.

“Volunteers play a significant role in every aspect of the Nature Parks, creating a super team and extending our efforts,” said Rachael Ferguson, Phillip Island Nature Parks Volunteer Coordinator.

This includes assisting the Nature Parks’ Conservation team through monitoring of threatened species such as Hooded Plovers, and Eastern Barred Bandicoots which are considered extinct in the wild on mainland Victoria.

On Churchill Island, the ongoing support of volunteers includes general maintenance, gardening, assisting with the museum collection and farm assistance.

Volunteers at the Barb Martin Bushbank collect and propagate approximately 80,000 seeds for revegetation across Phillip Island, continuing Barb’s legacy to establish, preserve and defend Phillip Island’s indigenous flora and wildlife habitats. This in turn supports the many volunteers who help by putting plants in the ground and removing weeds to improve the biodiversity of habitat used by wildlife.

Volunteers are also not afraid to tackle major global environmental challenges including marine debris by collecting, sorting and analysing 43,563 marine debris monthly.

Visitors are also delighted to meet volunteers at the Koala Conservation Reserve, Churchill Island and the Nobbies who ensure they have a memorable and authentic experience. Dedicated surfers also contribute their time to protecting and celebrating the Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve and Volunteers also support Friends of Churchill Island Society and Surf Beach Sunderland Bay Coast Action Group.

“We just want to say a big thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers and we are looking forward to welcoming the team back to the Nature Parks when it is safe to do so,” said Rachael.