How many of you reading this blog are volunteers?
How many of you are emergency services volunteers?
How many of you used to be volunteers?
Where would our community be without you?
In 2013 families are working longer and harder to make a living, and as a direct result they have less of their ‘spare’ time to give to their community and those communities are suffering.
This phenomenon is only going to increase.
Tax breaks for emergency services volunteers are essential to allow them to continue to give freely to their communities without suffering economic loss.
I am privileged to say that with Geoff Brock MP we have been gathering information to put a case to the State & Federal Governments for tax breaks for emergency services volunteers.
At the inaugural National Rural Women's Conference held in Canberra in February, Geoff saw an opportunity to learn more about what was happening throughout our nation, from a regional perspective, and sponsored me, as a delegate, to attend on his behalf.
At this conference, we took the opportunity to put the idea of giving tax breaks to emergency services volunteers on the table for discussion.
You may recall, in recent times, Bob Katter MP was quoted as saying that "AFL players deserve special tax deals to compensate them, because their earnings plunge when they retire, often aged in their 20s.”
We believe our emergency services volunteers are equally, if not more deserving of consideration of such a scheme.
We would argue, it would be more appropriate to introduce such incentives, to increase participation and retention of volunteers in our emergency services, as a priority and if these were successful, then to consider broadening the scope of such a scheme.
Today John and I feel privileged to use this initiative collaboratively, with Geoff, as a platform for our Senate Bid.
The issue of dwindling volunteer numbers for our essential services, such as CFS, SES and SAAS is very real.
Volunteer recruitment and retention should be of concern to our government.
Our volunteer emergency service personnel include professionals, self-employed business owners and stay at home mums and dads.
They selflessly protect, defend and support our communities.
I would like to provide you with some facts;
In January 2007, research from Volunteering Australia reported that 88% of volunteers incur out-of-pocket expenses, which are not reimbursed.
Of those who had stopped or reduced their volunteering involvement, 75.3% cited petrol prices as the reason for this decision, though other costs were contributing factors.
In term so existing measures there is Payroll Tax Relief for employers in all States who have employees that volunteer for the SES or CFS and attend an emergency during working time, but this doesn’t go far enough.
In the 2004 report of the Council of Australian Governments Bushfire Taskforce, National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management tax concessions were examined and the attitude of the Treasury was noted.
PUT SIMPLY – the introduction of such a measure was NOT SUPPORTED.
John and I, with your support, plan to reinvigorate this conversation and aim to have tax breaks for volunteers enshrined in legislation.
Be part of this conversation.
Tell us what motivates you be a volunteer.
Tell us your experiences with the associated costs, both emotional and financial, of giving back to your community.
We are listening.