Call for volunteers

Sporting clubs and community groups across Port Lincoln and surrounds are calling for volunteers as more teams amalgamate and long-standing events fold.

This year, Tunarama was cancelled and the Tod River and Lincoln South cricket clubs amalgamated – with a drop in volunteers a contributing factor to both.

The Port Lincoln Times approached multiple community groups, including the Port Lincoln Motorcycle Association, Port Lincoln Show and Meals on Wheels to discuss their volunteer experiences.

Port Lincoln Motorcycle Club president Simon Whillas is on the lookout for volunteers.

He said as president of a local club, there was always a constant pressure to find volunteers and you were asking them to put aside valuable time in their lives to assist in clubs.

“An observation I have seen through many different sporting clubs – and it goes into all volunteering bodies – 10 to 15 per cent of member volunteers are on the committee and are driving the direction, making future decisions and organising and running the events,” he said.

“Our club has had to involve two other small sporting clubs to assist us in running our events due to lack of numbers or inability to see a delegated task through from start to finish. Honestly, it is such a shame as volunteering in any form is such a rewarding thing to do for others and your clubs will grow and benefit in so many ways.

“The satisfaction in watching the clubs grow in numbers and seeing the kids participate and learn new skills not only in the chosen sport but watching the adults work together for the growth and improvement of the club.”

Mr Whillas worried that if everyone continued to stand back then more sporting groups and clubs would continue to amalgamate and close completely.

“I think it’s just worth getting involved, be part of the growth and show the future members, the kids, how rewarding it is to be a positive active part of the clubs and sports they love and you will enjoy the amazing rewards that come with it.”

Hazel Manning is a previous vice president of Tunarama Festival and a current volunteer for Port Lincoln Meals on Wheels who is aware of how important volunteering is to a community organisation.

“The times now show a decline in volunteering, when we most need it,” she said.

“Volunteering is such a valuable asset to Meals on Wheels – it’s enriching for the elderly as the deliverers of the meals may be the only contact they have that day or even the week.

“The volunteers get to see the joy they bring others and the camaraderie they have with other volunteers.”

Port Lincoln Meals on Wheels is currently taking on volunteers.

Port Lincoln Show president Semi Skoljarev said volunteering used to be part of the social fabric and community lifestyle, which seemed to have waned in recent years.

“I assume there are a lot of reasons [for the drop in volunteer numbers],” he said.

“Whether people are too busy making ends meet.”

Mr Skoljarev said there were benefits to volunteering.

“There are skills that are learnt and it creates awareness and connections to the community. There are the social aspects of meeting people and making friends, being part of a group and having fun along the way,” he said.

“We are looking for varying kinds of volunteers and skills – from helping out leading up to or even just on show day, particularly in the pavilion, all help is appreciated.

“Going forward positions are needed to be filled to ensure the show goes on.”

When discussing the option of moving to a payment system instead of volunteering Mr Skojlarev said the show had not considered paying volunteers.

“There is no specific grant available to subsidise volunteer payments to my knowledge,” he said.

“Is it a case of pay one, pay all?

“The Show Society has been able to secure enough sponsorship to help cover increasing costs to put on our show to date without increasing ticket entry prices.”

The Port Lincoln Show is also looking for volunteers from the community to organise the 2024 Show.

Port Lincoln Netball Association vice president Rebecca Plane said it was club volunteers who supported the association committee.

“Each of the clubs needs to be able to provide their volunteers, some clubs don’t have an issue and some really struggle,” she said.

“We understand and we think even if a job is shared between multiple people many hands make light work.

“It is hard to try to get people involved, the turnover rate can be difficult, they may only stay on one or two years.”

She said the biggest thing the association was working on was to encourage young people to get involved, not just in the clubs but in committees.

“I think that’s the future of where we need to go. Young people can get intimidated but if they are well supported, and can sit and listen or find things they can put their hands up for, even just to help someone do a job, I think that’s a good way to encourage people to get involved,” Ms Plane said.

“The benefits I find are you are part of your community and get to engage with all different factors, I do volunteering in all sorts of capacities.

“I get more information and networking and am learning how different committees run.”

Other groups and clubs around Port Lincoln recently seeking volunteers included Riding for the disabled, The Salvation Army, Port Lincoln RSL Sub-branch, Port Lincoln State Emergency Service, Zonta Club of Port Lincoln and Australian Red Cross.