By Hamed Saberi
FROM 21–27 May 2018, thousands of events will be held across Australia to say thank you to the 6 million Australians who volunteer their time. National Volunteer Week is an annual celebration to acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers. This year the National Volunteer Week theme is “Give a little. Change a lot.”
At the local level, volunteers are crucial to the support and wellbeing of many members of the community. City of Greater Dandenong in south east Melbourne is a good example of this. According to Dandenong council’s monthly magazine, “The City”, over the past year the council’s 200 volunteers have contributed more than 18,000 hours of their time to support a wide range of services.
Volunteering, however, is not a well-known concept among the Afghan Australian community. While many Afghans have been rather successful in building for themselves good lives here through hard work and determination, their contribution to the community through volunteer works, however, has been somewhat insignificant. What is more disappointing is that those Afghans who choose to volunteer their time to serve the community are often ridiculed and dismissed. This is largely due to the fact that for many Afghans financial reward is the main motivator and ultimate deciding factor when it comes to allocating their time for an activity or task.
Although many in the Afghan Australian community might acknowledge that volunteering gives them the opportunity to make an impact on the lives of others, lack of monetary compensation for their time is a huge drawback. Unless this attitude starts to shift towards a more altruistic trend, and away from expectations of immediate financial rewards, it is hard to imagine any promising increase in the number of volunteers within the Afghan Australian community.