Volunteering gives Gemma lifetime of memories

Santo EastGemma Northcott feels privileged to have been able to combine two of her passions in life volunteering as a Community Development Officer at Vanuatu Netball.

Northcott, a passionate netballer, has also been a volunteer in her home town as well as in a remote community in the Northern Territory and abroad in countries such as Kenya and Peru.

Police Women Learn NetballWhen she saw the position as Community Development Officer advertised with netball’s governing body in the Pacific Island nation, she saw it as a fantastic chance to make a difference to lives of women in a wide range of areas including sport development and health education.

“Being able to volunteer in a role promoting and developing a sport I love, working with every ability and age level and having the opportunity to share my background and interests in health, education and development was hugely appealing to me,” Northcott said.

“Aside from the obvious netball development aspect, my role has three main focuses; gender empowerment, health education and media.

“I take these key factors combined with the two over-arching goals I use in any volunteering experiences – capacity building and sustainability – and aim to implement them in everything I do.

Staff Training“Some days this involves securing sponsorship for the various events we run around the country to promote exercise, sport and healthy living.

“Other times it’s sitting on the ground under a tree with a group of mothers in a community talking about how exercise and healthy living play an important role in minimising the risk of developing non-communicable diseases.”

International Volunteer Day is celebrated on 5 December and Netball Australia is proud to act as an Australian Partner to the Australian Government’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, providing support to Northcott in her role.

This program complements Netball Australia’s partnership with Vanuatu Netball through the Pacific Sports Partnership program which is an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and managed by the Australian Sports Commission.

Both programs foster strong linkages with people and organisations in the pacific and contribute to Australia’s overseas aid program.

Northcott said she’s gained many priceless memories from her experience volunteering overseas.

Lunch time in the villageI think the most exhilarating experiences in life are the ones you can share with others you care about, doing something you share a passion for and this role definitely includes that for me,” Northcott said.

“There are so many opportunities out there that it’s truly amazing to think of the impact that volunteers have all over the globe every day.

“Volunteers play such a varied but vital role in every community in every country around the world. No matter who you are, everyone has something to give and can make a difference to better the lives of those around you.

“There is nothing like watching the joy on a child’s face when they shoot their first goal, or a mother who has been told they are no longer in the ‘high risk’ category for developing an non-communicable diseases, or an athlete who achieves their personal best or rises to the next level of competition.”

Next year the netball community is assembling one of its biggest volunteer workforces ever at Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015.

Thus far, over 500 volunteers have been offered role as part of the `HEREIFYOUNEED’ campaign, with a few roles still available in specific areas of the event.

Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 Chief Executive Marne Fechner said volunteers have made netball the No.1 participation sport for females in Australia.

“They (volunteers) do this willingly and with enthusiasm, but most of all because it is great fun and gives them a sense of achievement,” Fechner said.

“Some have been volunteering all of their life and see volunteering at Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 an absolute highlight of their time in netball.”

Information about volunteering at Netball World Cup SYDNEY 2015 can he found at www.nwc2015.com.au/volunteers  or enquire directly by email to volunteer@nwc2015.com.au

For more information on international volunteer opportunities visit http://www.volunteering.scopeglobal.com/