Volunteering in Australia has been undergoing a period of major change over the past two decades; the 2021 census showed a 19 percent decline in people volunteering through an organisation over the previous five-year period.
That decline was most severe in the 15-24-year-old age bracket, with financial reasons most often cited for not volunteering.
So, it’s heartening to find someone in the Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale who so comprehensively bucks that trend.
Twenty-one-year-old Liesl Bailey’s passion for volunteering started when she was a girl guide and would help fundraise for equipment and camps.
She continued her service to the community through her high schooling, helping in the library before school began each day, and assisting the Jarrahdale Heritage Society with cataloguing and gardening work.
Shortly after graduating, Liesl found a space to spread her wings at the Jarrahdale Community Collective where she was welcomed onto the executive committee as secretary.
During that time, she was instrumental in the development of the youth group and Zumba classes.
Despite working part-time as a disability support worker and studying full-time to become an enrolled nurse, Liesl has still found time to volunteer with park run, and has just taken on a commitment with the Keep Jarrahdale Beautiful team, who collected a total of 60 bags of rubbish from around the town on Sunday.
“I do it because I enjoy being involved in the community,” she said.
“I thrive on being around people and helping others. I like seeing the difference these activities can have in people’s lives when you consider they wouldn’t get out nearly as much if it weren’t for our activities.”
With her can-do attitude, it wasn’t at all surprising that Liesl was named the SJ Shire’s 2024 Community Citizen of the Year – Youth winner.
“I was very excited and grateful to be nominated and awarded,” she said.
Ever the advocate for volunteerism, when Liesl was asked if she had any parting remarks, she simply said: “If anyone would like to volunteer, feel free to join us at parkrun on a Saturday, or to contact the JCC”.
Congratulations Liesl, an honour very well-deserved.