by Tim Howard
DISMAYED at the dwindling popularity of volunteering in the community, a Clarence Valley businessman has come up with a plan to restore the numbers of people giving up their time for the community.
And he has sent it straight to the top.
Kevin Walter, who runs a retreat on his and wife Ann's Waterview Heights property, has become dismayed at the decline in the number of people serving as a volunteers in organisations.
Inspired by eminent writer and social commentator Eva Cox's 1995 Boyer Lectures, Mr Walter has come up with a proposal to introduce mandatory volunteering for people aged between 20 and 60.
Earlier this year he sent his proposal to the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull as well as the Member for Page, Kevin Hogan.
He has received a reply from the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, who said the government is tackling the issue through an initiative called Giving Australia 2016, which sought to develop strategies to encourage volunteering and other forms of social investment.
Mr Porter said Mr Walter's proposal to make volunteering mandatory did not align with the generally accepted understanding of volunteering as "time willingly given for the common good".
Mr Walter said he could understand Mr Porter's point, but was sceptical of the effectiveness the government initiative.
"We'll have to see how it works out," he said.
Mr Walter's plan was to make volunteering mandatory in 200-hour blocks every 10 years between the ages of 20 and 60.
He said something needed to be done to overcome the modern-day reluctance to do volunteer work.
"In every organisation you see it's the same," he said. "The people doing all the work are getting older and there doesn't seem to be the young people stepping up to replace them."
Mr Walter said making volunteering mandatory could introduce people to the concept of doing something for the community.
"Volunteering is actually something that benefits the individual as well as the organisation he or she volunteers for," he said.
"They can get something out of it."