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It's National Volunteer Week. Giving back is hard - but also rewarding.

“Life as a young volunteer or intern is hectic. Hectic and poor.”

By AMANDA ATLEE

I remember what it was like.

Savouring your ration of udon noodles and soy sauce. Trying to answer the phone correctly depending on which of the three jobs you are currently at. Oh and uni! Don’t forget uni! However will you fit in all of those readings?

Life as a young volunteer or intern is hectic. Hectic and poor.

There are many reasons why we drag ourselves out of bed and it is definitely not for the money or for the glory. For some, it’s the feeling that you’re doing something good in the world; that you’re giving back to the community. For others it is trying to learn more, develop skills and establish networks in the hope that someday, somewhere you will be able to get paid for doing this work that you love so much. But above all, you have to believe in what you are doing. And that is why so many people continue to volunteer long past university.

6.4 million peoplethroughout Australia believe in volunteering and most of these are actually already engaged in paid work. Many work full time jobs, support a family and still manage to give up some hours a week to invest in their community. People aged between 45 and 54 years reported the highest rate of volunteering.

“National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognise all of the people in our community who sacrifice their time to contribute to something larger than themselves.”

While it contributes more to the Australian economy than mining, the true impact of volunteering is immeasurable. Without volunteers in our community needy people wouldn’t receive meals, there would be homes burned to the ground, sport teams would collapse, children would have to dash across the pedestrian crossing without a lollipop lady/man and organisations that rely on the support and donations raised by volunteers would cease to exist. Quite frankly without Australian volunteers, there would be chaos which would reach around the world. Injustice and abuse would not be exposed, political prisoners and people in crises would be unheard and alone.

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National Volunteer Week is an opportunity to recognise all of the people in our community who sacrifice their time to contribute to something larger than themselves.

As a Volunteer Coordinator at Amnesty International, I appreciate these assets on a daily basis. In many cases they have become my friends and even my family.  I am constantly impressed and inspired by the commitment, the creativity and the passion of people who support Amnesty week in and week out. We receive emails on a daily basis from people eager to get involved. Amnesty International is a movement made up of members, volunteers and activists – they shape and inform our campaigns, they raise funds and they are the voice of human rights in local communities.

This is why I will continue to volunteer outside of my paid work and encourage others to do the same. You don’t have to dedicate your life or donate all of your money to a cause but if you are passionate about something I encourage you to find out how you can create change in that area. Whether it be reading, soccer, human rights or the environment there is always something that you can contribute. Not only will you develop new friends, skills and experiences but you will feel a sense of fulfillment and appreciation for being part of a community that cares.

Find out how you can get involved in Amnesty International’s volunteer program by clicking  here.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people campaigning to protect human rights. We have a vision of a world in which every person enjoys all of the rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.

Amanda Atlee

After completing a range of internships, volunteer opportunities and a Masters in Peace and Conflict Studies, Amanda Atlee is the Activism and Support Coordinator at Amnesty International and continues to volunteer in her spare time.  She is passionate about human rights and empowering people through grassroots mobilisation, campaigning and community education.

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