Volunteers and Community Builders Thank You Reception

(6pm 28 June 2012, Town Hall Vestibule)

Thank you, MC, and good evening, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nationalities who live in our city.

I also acknowledge Councillors and our Chief Executive, Monica Barone.

I'm pleased to have this opportunity to welcome you all here at Town Hall. It's one small way we can acknowledge the very great contribution you make to Sydney.

There are volunteers who work directly with the City - staffing information booths at Town Hall and Circular Quay, for instance, helping with information and friendly advice for visitors.

Many others are keeping community gardens across the local government area looking lush, or keeping residents informed and entertained via community radio.

Others deliver Meals on Wheels to housebound residents, or work on programs run for children, youth and Over 55s from our various community centres.

So many events, from Chinese New Year to Seniors Week and Mardi Gras rely heavily on the good will and hard work of volunteers and so does the very important Street Count, which tracks the numbers of rough sleepers in the city.

Here, at Town Hall itself, our Friends group most generously supports the amazing historic collection while our archives and our wonderful history program have their own cohort of volunteers.

Right across Sydney there are groups and individuals working in legal aid, or as interpreters, organising swap parties or supporting cultural events like Sydney Festival or the Sydney Writers' Festival or working for a more sustainable environment.

All of them are donating their talents, skills and expertise to build stronger, happier communities. They enrich our city immeasurably, giving over 26,000 hours each year to City of Sydney activities alone, and many more thousands of hours to the myriad of other community projects.

They help create a more connected and inclusive city, at the same time proving how our communities can become more resilient by organising themselves to support one another.

Residents, workers, tourists and visitors all benefit from the work of our volunteers and Sydney could not, in truth, function without them. I am sure that they, too, derive pleasure and satisfaction from knowing the importance of their work.

This is our opportunity to say a heart-felt thank you to every one of you. We are so appreciative of all you do to make Sydney the fantastic, vibrant and inclusive place that it is.

Well done, and thank you all. If you look at the screen, you will see photos of yourselves at work.