International Volunteers Day 2017

5 December 2017

Today is International Volunteer Day, which is held on the 5th of December each year to celebrate the efforts of volunteers across the world, thank them for their efforts and encourage others to make a difference in their community by volunteering for a cause they believe in.

Don't Drink and Drown volunteers riding bikes on Rottnest IslandRoyal Life Saving WA is assisted by over 1000 volunteers each year, who assist in spreading our drowning prevention message across the WA community, training, fundraising, office duties and general community awareness. We’re proud to have such a dedicated team of talented individuals give their time to help our cause and we honour and thank them today for the amazing work they do.

One such volunteer is Mel Hankin, who helps spread our drowning prevention message to young West Australians through the Don’t Drink and Drown program. Mel is a mum of three who has worked in a public hospital radiology department for 18 years. So how did she get involved in Don’t Drink and Drown you may ask? After returning to study following some time as a stay at home mum, Mel continued the teaching degree she’d previously begun before switching to health promotion and youth work. Through this she developed a passion for working with young people.

She began volunteering with another local charity before Edith Cowan University recommended she volunteer for Royal Life Saving also, and after turning up to volunteer just for a day she just kept coming back!

Over the past few months Mel has been involved in sharing our Don’t Drink and Drown message to young people at community health expos before recently leading our volunteer team at the Leavers celebrations on Rottnest Island.

Mel says she’s really enjoyed getting involved in the program. “Health promotion with youth is my passion. I love just being able to get down to their level and bond with them so they realise they can ask questions and feel comfortable asking those questions. It’s a great opportunity to educate them while they are open and listening.”

“I think the Don’t Drink and Drown program has a really important message to get across to kids. We do some reckless things when we are younger and it’s not a conversation you generally want to have with mum, dad, a school teacher or anyone that seems to be in higher authority than you, so we fill a really important role! We're someone that will say ‘we’re not going to take this fun away from you but let’s educate you on how to do it safely.’ It’s such an important message when young people have access to alcohol and are around water” say Mel.A group of Leavers at Rottnest Island

For Mel the recent Leavers week at Rottnest was a real highlight. “The kids had a massive time, and in a scenario when it would be easy for them to be misled we were able to be there and help them make smart choices. During my whole time with Don’t Drink and Drown there’ve been a few highlights, especially with those kids who are from disadvantaged backgrounds. There’s kids out there who are misunderstood and have not received much guidance in life. To have them come to me and ask questions is great. They already know what they’re doing is wrong and they are looking for some guidance which we can give.”

This International Volunteer’s Day we’d encourage all West Aussies to consider volunteering for a local cause doing work in our community. Mel says volunteering has made a real impact on her life “It’s not something that pays financially, but I get a real sense of achievement at the end of the day just to help people. It makes me feel good as a person that I can make a difference in a small way. More and more people are needed in volunteering because not-for-profit groups rely heavily on volunteers to promote, create awareness and keep people alive. They are really important!”

To find out how you can assist Royal Life Saving Society WA through volunteering click the link below.

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