A great ambassador
Thursday, 23rd January, 2020
By Myles Burt
Josephine Peter will be heading east this weekend as Camden Council’s Australia Day Ambassador for 2020.
This will be Ms Peter’s third time in a row as an Australia Day Ambassador, having previously filled the role for the Liverpool Shire Council in 2019, and the Coolamon Shire Council in 2018.
Ms Peter has been continuously volunteering over the last 79 years, having assisted 25 organisations within that time.
Ms Peter still volunteers, dedicating her time to the Broken Hill Base Hospital Kiosk and the RFDS Women’s Auxiliary.
She first began volunteering at the age of seven, where she knitted socks for Australian soldiers during the Second World War.
She was inspired by her mother who helped by knitting balaclavas and gloves for a national appeal, which then sent the items to under- equipped soldiers.
As a result, a young Ms Peters went from a knitting amateur to contributing 450 pairs of knitted socks to the war effort.
“In those days, some of our soldiers went off with almost nothing,” Ms Peter said.
“They went from the weather that we have over here in Australia to cold countries with slush, mud and everything.
“They weren’t prepared for it, so the appeal was really out for people to help to clothe our soldiers.
“I thought ‘well I need to do something for our soldiers because they have to win this war’.”
Now, Ms Peter will be heading off to Camden to talk about how incredibly important and essential volunteering is to local communities.
Volunteers have always been in great demand, whether it be within sporting clubs, health bodies or social clubs.
“Not everybody can be paid, you have to have people to give their time and do things,” Ms Peters said.
“I mean for goodness sake, we wouldn’t have any children’s sport if we didn’t have people who volunteer to try and coach these young people.”
Ms Peter said she’d bet her bottom dollar that even Australian tennis superstar Ashleigh Barty was trained from the very beginning by tennis volunteers.
“She would’ve started off with volunteers helping her I’m sure, and of course as she got better she was able to employ better people to get her better training,” Ms Peters said.
“Everybody somewhere along their life needs someone, a volunteer somewhere to get them started, or to help with something.”
Ms Peter said volunteers have always been there working hard year after year.
Ms Peters said the catastrophic bushfires have brought more awareness to the importance of volunteer roles, not only within firefighting, but within all fields.
“I think they realise that volunteers are a necessary part of our existence really,” Ms Peter said.
“I mean if you didn’t have any volunteers in the firefighting situation - NSW, Victoria and Kangaroo Island - there’d be nothing left.
“There’d be nothing to stop it if we didn’t have volunteers because there’s not enough paid man power around to control them.”
She said that volunteering in Broken Hill is still strong and always has been.
Ms Peter said Broken Hill volunteers have been continuously recognised over the years by various organisation across NSW and interstate.
“Quite often we have had Broken Hill right to the finals and I think Broken Hill has always been great for volunteering,” Ms Peter said.
Driving through Camden near Sydney 65 years ago, Ms Peter said she expects quite a change.
She remembered Camden as a laid back county village with a fair few beautiful buildings that had been funded off the back of the merino sheep industry.
“I’m expecting to see some beautiful buildings, but I know it’s a very large centre now,” Ms Peter said.