The contributions of over 80,000 volunteers and workers across the country have been recognised this year on National Meals on Wheels Day.
Every year the volunteers and staff of Meals on Wheels organisations deliver close to 15 million meals from 750 kitchens to older people and people with disabilities throughout Australia.
The CEO of the NSW Meals on Wheels Association, Les MacDonald said the day provides an opportunity to celebrate the valuable voluntary contribution.
“It really is about taking the time to say what a wonderful job they are doing and encouraging other people who may be thinking about volunteering to give it a go,” he said.
“Because without them, Meals on Wheels organisations wouldn’t be able to exist.”
The Commonwealth Minister for Ageing, Justin Elliot marked the occasion by delivering a meal to a couple in the ACT from the Red Cross facility in Holder.
“[Meals on Wheels] provides nutritious meals to our nation’s frail aged and people with disabilities across Australia,” said Mrs Elliot.
“[It] also provides important social contact for people who are housebound with many of the meal delivered by volunteers.”
But Mr MacDonald estimates that around 90 per cent of these volunteers are aged 60 years or over.
He said his association will be calling on government to provide funding to meals services to attract a greater number of younger volunteers.
“Younger people don’t tend to have the same level of involvement in community organisations,” he said.
“They are motivated by causes and are more likely to volunteer for organisations like Greenpeace and Doctors Without Borders.”
“If they continue to carry that pattern of volunteering into their older years then Meals on Wheels will be dead.
“We need to re-conceptualise volunteering within Meals on Wheels organisations by re-shaping the volunteering role to make it more attractive to them,” said Mr MacDonald.
National Meals on Wheels Day is held annually on the last Wednesday in August and this year’s theme is ‘Fast and Friendly’.