SES Workers & Volunteers Reception

Today, I especially want to acknowledge all of you - our fabulous volunteers. You literally keep us going, on so many fronts.

All those wonderful festivals that have gained Sydney an international reputation - New Year's Eve, Chinese New Year, Mardi Gras and others - rely very much on the efforts and energies on volunteers.

Much of the work for this year's Living in Harmony festival was carried out by 470 volunteers; the exhibitions and festival at Pine Street, the community barbecues, the library talks and workshops all involve our volunteers.

In fact, almost every facet of our City life is made possible by the generosity and hard work of people like you, whether it's uploading historical records online for our archives to greening our City with community gardens and landcare, or offering employment support in Redfern, volunteers are there.

The twice-yearly Street Count of people sleeping rough needs you, as do the guided tours of Town Hall, making it open to the public, as it should be.

Chinese, Japanese, Thai and Indonesian volunteers are vital in collecting materials and running courses, as are the people who staff the tourist kiosks and provide Meals on Wheels, or bring joy to special-needs children at the annual New Year's Eve Lord Mayor's Picnic.

There are also the fantastic men and women of our SES - 10,000 of them across NSW. Whether it's floods or storms or other disasters, the people in orange overalls are there to help, as well as offering support to police, fire brigades and the ambulance service.

Volunteering is one of the great ways to build a cohesive community. As you will all know, it can bring great satisfaction - and there are any number of studies that attest to its benefits to volunteers in terms of health and their sense of well-being.

It also brings great benefits to the community as a whole, providing practical help to those who need it, forging ties across age, income and ethnic groups and creating a caring and harmonious society out of our diversity.

So on behalf of the City, I thank you all most warmly for your contributions. They truly are invaluable.

And before closing, I'd like to pay tribute to one of our volunteers, Pam Dahl-Helm Johnston, a long-time resident of Woolloomooloo, a community activist who died tragically earlier this year. Her partner, Butch, is here today.

We were lucky to have Pam as a volunteer at the Juanita Nielsen Centre for the past five years, where she taught a variety of art classes, drawing on her own professional skills and inspiring and enthusing everyone she taught.

Her death was a great loss to Butch, to her family and friends, but also for the whole Woolloomooloo community. But in that sense of loss, we can see the powerful impact she - like so many volunteers - made in the community. And that will live on.

On a happier note, I would also like to wish Lois Sabine, a City of Sydney Archives volunteer, a very happy 80th birthday today. Thank you for your wonderful contribution.

Thank you all once again.