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OPINION: Let's celebrate our selfless seniors

THIS week is National Volunteer Week and as the Minister for Seniors I want to give a great big shout out to the selfless seniors who dedicate their time in our communities.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, senior Australians contribute the highest number of volunteer hours of any age group, and while not the largest group, they are still a significant one.

In 2010, 2.9 million Australians over 65 years of age volunteered. By 2050, almost a quarter of the population will be aged over 65 years compared to 14% now. In Queensland, the 55-64 age group make up 38% of the volunteering population while 65+ is 33% (2010).

Our aging population presents an opportunity to encourage our seniors living healthier and more active lives to consider volunteering in the community while it also increases demand on volunteers to support the health care needs of our elderly.

Volunteering not only benefits the individual by providing social interaction and an opportunity to develop new skills but it also helps the economy. Volunteering was worth $13.4 billion to the Queensland economy in 2006 and provided a volume of work equivalent to 299,000 jobs.

This year's National Volunteer Week theme, Give Happy, Live Happy is based on research that says volunteers are happier, healthier and even sleep better than those who don't volunteer.

The Palaszczuk Government is proud to support our seniors and Volunteering Queensland's National Volunteer Week program http://www.volunteeringqld.org.au.

Coralee O'Rourke MP

Minister for Disability Services, Minister for Seniors and Minister Assisting the Premier on North Queensland.


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