History of FNQ Voluntees Inc.

Connecting People to People and People to Places – Servicing the Cassowary Coast, Douglas Coast, Cairns and Tablelands Regions

FNQ Volunteers Inc. started out in a small way in 1999 as the Far North Queensland Volunteer Resource Agency. The name change came in May 2002 when the organisation became an incorporated entity. In October 2002 the agency became a registered charity.

The then Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Hunter was employed in March 1999 to establish and manage a volunteer referral service for Far North Queensland, which she started, literally, from scratch.

Jennifer stated: “On the first day I sat on the floor in an empty office with my briefcase and mobile phone beside me.” One month, and much hard work later the new organisation had referred 12 volunteers to four agencies. Looking ahead it was noted a strong demand for referral services and wants to expand FNQ Volunteers Inc. to open outreach centres on the Tablelands and in Mossman/Port Douglas and south to Innisfail.

With more than 200 voluntary positions listed throughout the year and with over 100 registered agencies, which cover an incredibly diverse range and area. Many are administrative positions offering positions such as data entry, receptionist, bookkeeper, information officer and general office duties. Other positions range from cooking in a day respite centre to shopping for the elderly and people with disabilities, reading to children, fundraising, sorting clothes for charities, social visiting, planting trees, helping organise exhibitions and community events, greeting tourists and helping newly arrived migrants and refugees.

Today FNQ Volunteers Inc.’s members cover an area from Mission Beach/Tully in the south to Mossman in the north and west to Ravenshoe. FNQ Volunteers Inc. works in partnership with other agencies to deliver services in Cape York. Many overseas students do voluntary work while they are in Cairns in order to improve their spoken English and gain a greater insight into community life in Australia.

Members cover a broad range of community organisations, working in community, health, support for the disabled and elderly, meals on wheels, child care, youth mentoring, emergency, the arts, the environment, animal welfare and tourism. All prospective volunteers are interviewed to ascertain their suitability for positions before they are referred.

Volunteering offers assistance to the community as well as a mutual benefit for the volunteer themselves. Many volunteers, 35% on average, leave their position to take up paid employment. It is a great way to get involved in community life, meeting people, networking, value-adding on skills and learning new ones. Experience is extremely important to employers and volunteering can offer the graduate a wealth of experience and on the job training to give them the edge at an interview.

FNQ Volunteers Inc. acknowledges the support from all levels of government, the corporate sector and local businesses in raising the profile of volunteering throughout the Far North Queensland region.

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