AVI’s 60th celebration spotlights Tasmania
16 February 2012
Tasmania was not left off the map as it took part in Australian Volunteers International’s (AVI) country wide celebrations of 60 years of international volunteering at The Old Woolstore in Hobart on Friday 10 February.
Over 75 guests attended the event, including State Government Ministers, Hobart City Councillors, returned volunteers, partner organisations and supporters.
Keynote speaker, Cassy O’Connor, the Tasmanian Minister for Community Development, highlighted the wonderful generosity of Tasmanians through volunteering.
“We celebrate the many Tasmanians who volunteer their time, energy and skills to help improve health and education outcomes, create sustainable livelihoods, and build partnerships and trust between individuals and communities, both locally and across national boundaries," Ms O’Connor said.
Returned volunteer and AVI Chair of the Board, Justice Richard Refshauge, spoke about the work of AVI past, present and future, and thanked returned volunteers for all of their achievements.
“You have made a massive contribution to the betterment of our world,” Justice Refshauge said.
The first Tasmanian volunteer, Robin Errey, spoke of her experience as a university graduate in 1964 when she travelled to Munda in Solomon Islands.
Robin reflected on her first impressions of the country and the place that she called home for 12 months. The experience taught her an appreciation of a global perspective and an acceptance of differences.
The most recent Tasmanian returned volunteer, Malcolm While, shared tales from his five volunteering assignments since 1994 in Solomon Islands, Malawi and Papua New Guinea, which total 13 years of volunteering.
Malcolm spoke about how his assignments have always had very clear objectives, as he worked as a teacher. Although he is still in contact with many people from all the countries he has worked in, he does question whether he made a difference.
At the event his question was answered. In the audience was a student of Malcolm’s from Solomon Islands in 2000, a student he helped inspire to pursue further studies and who is currently at The University of the South Pacific.
As AVI reflects on the past 60 years of international volunteering, Justice Refshauge answered the question of where to from here.
“I am confident that AVI has another 60 productive years ahead,” Justice Refshauge said.
The next Australian 60th celebration takes place in Canberra on Tuesday 21 February.
Read more about AVI’s 60th celebrations
Picture: Justice Richard Refshauge