Marcia Crosse has been a volunteer for about 19 years at Emerald's Visitor Information Centre. She celebrated her birthday with fellow volunteers on May 22.
Marcia Crosse has been a volunteer for about 19 years at Emerald's Visitor Information Centre. She celebrated her birthday with fellow volunteers on May 22.

Volunteers are the beating hearts of Highlands communities

VOLUNTEERS have been recognised and celebrated for the work they do within Central Highlands communities as part of National Volunteer Week.

From sport to op shops and tourism, volunteers are an essential part of everyday operations within communities.

While there a too many volunteers to name, Central Queensland News has spoken to a few of them about their experiences.

Ten volunteers help to run Emerald’s Visitor Information Centre 361 days a year.

Marcia Crosse has been one of the friendly faces who has assisted people on their journeys or with general inquiries.

While she has volunteered her whole life, Ms Crosse has been at the centre for about 19 years and loves the range of people she has met.

“You create your own little social network among other volunteers from all different age groups,” she said. “And they’re often people you wouldn’t normally meet.”

Ms Crosse said it was a great way to connect with other travellers.

“I travel a lot myself, so I felt like I had something to contribute, from places I’ve been to help other travellers coming in needing information,” she said.

“It’s a two-way street, you learn things from travellers as well, if things that are open, road conditions, new businesses and new experiences.”

Volunteers also contribute to visitor information services at Blackwater, Springsure and Duaringa.

Marcia Crosse enjoys volunteering at Emerald's Visitor Information Centre.
Marcia Crosse enjoys volunteering at Emerald's Visitor Information Centre.

Ms Crosse said a lot of businesses couldn’t exist without volunteers and hoped more people would offer their time across the region.

“I know from the information centre that we welcome anyone who wants to come in for a few hours a week or a few hours a month,” she said.

The centre reopened to the public last week, following a reduction in restrictions in Queensland, with social distancing measures and enhanced hygiene practices in place.

Blackwater Junior Cricket Club secretary Emma Ash has also been volunteering for most of her life, starting from when she was just 13.

From Brisbane to Mt Isa and Blackwater, the mum of two has assisted at the school tuckshop with the P & C, community show societies and now cricket.

One thing she has noticed on her journey is the lack of volunteers across different organisations.

She said they generally had enough people to make it by, but more volunteers would take the pressure off the regulars.

“With cricket we had 20 kids and just trying to get anyone to stay supervise a group is hard,” she said.

“We would have the same volunteers every week, and just to have one day out of the season to sit and watch the kids would be amazing.

“Even if one person from every family volunteered for one day, it would make a huge difference.”

Mrs Ash encouraged parents with children in any sporting group to put their hands up and help out.

“I do it for the kids, if we didn’t, they would miss out,” she said.

“That’s like a lot of parents who do help. They go above and beyond because it’s for the kids.”

Clermont Junior Cricket Association secretary Patricia Benney said they were also having trouble finding volunteers.

“I think some people are frightened because they haven’t played themselves or don’t know what to do,” she said.

“It’s just about putting your hand up and doing what you can.

“But at the end of the day, all of us in the Central Highlands do it for the betterment of the kids.

“If you have a club and can make it a good place, you are benefiting the kids, family groups and people from all different walks of life.”

She said club sport was a great way for parents and children to socialise, but clubs across the region would not be there without the volunteers.

“Even if you don’t have kids, many hands make light work.

“If you want sports, community fairs, rodeos, and other activities, without volunteers then they won’t happen.”