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International Year Of Volunteers Launched

New Zealanders will be urged to “value volunteers” over the next 12 months as part of a Government-led initiative to adopt the United Nations International Year of Volunteers 2001.

The Year, is being opened simultaneously around the world on this day [December 5].

The International Year of Volunteers is about recognising and valuing the contribution volunteers make, how they strengthen and build strong communities, and helping promote this.

Minister of Internal Affairs Hon. George Hawkins officially launched the Year at Parliament this morning in the presence of volunteers, Central and Local Government representatives and community leaders.

He said the Government had got behind the initiative because it recognises the value of the work volunteers do.

“More than a million New Zealanders do some sort of volunteer work for 60,000 voluntary groups including sports groups and charities, and every year more than $1.3 billion is invested in services provided by the voluntary sector.”

George Hawkins said the 1996 Census showed that 41 per cent of people over 15 carried out unpaid voluntary work for people outside their home in the month before the Census.

“This tremendous contribution to New Zealand society strengthens and builds communities, and it is fitting that on this day of the Volunteer we recognise the value of the work given.

“We say thank you and will keep saying thank year in the Year to come,” George Hawkins said.

Lottery Grants Board has already made $500,000 available for training and promotional initiatives for the Year and the Community Grants Organisation Grants Scheme (COGs) has a further $300,000 to distribute nationally for celebrations, training and networking events.

Key messages for the Year were also launched this morning. Developed by the special Ministerial Reference Group for IYV, they are “Volunteers are vital”, “Value Volunteers”, “Cheers for Volunteers” and “Volunteers Strengthen Communities.”

A national plan of action is being developed by the Ministerial Reference Group this year to raise the profile of volunteers and thank them for their work.

“This is due to be released shortly,” George Hawkins said.


Ends

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