Meet a Volunteer
St Peters Library volunteer
When Smiljka Pasic migrated to Australia from Serbia more than twenty years ago, she did not speak a word of English.
A respected teacher in Serbia’s education department, Smiljka was overcome with emotions as she left her economically ravaged homeland that began to fall apart as a result of the Yugoslav civil wars of the 1990’s.
However, Smiljka was eager to embrace Australian culture and decided immediately that she wanted to learn as much as she could about her new country.
“When I came to Australia and then to Adelaide, I thought to myself, you can’t love something you don’t know,” Smiljka said.
That is when Smiljka, now 72, decided to volunteer her services and learn more about South Australia, its people, history and way of life.
I say to everyone—yes, become a Volunteer. It will change your life. I am very happy
After various roles including volunteering at the Migrant Resource Centre, Smiljka now volunteers weekly at the Council’s St Peters Library.
“Being a Volunteer has improved my personal life and self-esteem, I have made friends and have expanded my vocabulary.”
“By being in touch in with books I have stayed young— I am a very positive person.”
Smiljka—who speaks multiple languages—says she has read at least 10,000 books , her favourite subjects being philosophy, roman literature and geography.
“I say to everyone—yes, become a Volunteer. It will change your life. I am very happy”.
Smiljka has volunteered at the St Peters Library for more than 16 years.
Meet more Council volunteers
Justice of the Peace volunteer
As one of the Council’s Volunteer Justices of the Peace, Sudhir Thakur is a familiar face at the Norwood Town Hall and on The Parade, Norwood.
Inspired by his late mother’s dedication to serving her community, Sudhir has become a committed Volunteer for the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, in addition to giving his time to a host of other charitable causes.
“My mother came from a very modest, lower middle-class strata of the Indian society, says Sudhir.
“Volunteering for the benefit of others when we ourselves were struggling to make ends meet was truly commendable. This is what inspired me to become a Volunteer.”
After migrating to Australia from India, Sudhir became a Justice of the Peace in 2015, to act as an independent and objective witness to documents used for official or legal purposes.
“Justice of the Peace services are often used by a wide range of people and I feel honoured to help them reduce the stress involved with getting documentation attested.”
Demand for the Council’s Justice of the Peace services is ever growing and even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sudhir and his colleagues were kept busy.
“Our work is increasing by the day because other Justices of the Peace such as police officers, doctors and nurses simply don’t have time to undertake these duties—and events such as the COVID-19 pandemic only add pressure to their already demanding workload.”
“During the pandemic we were busier than ever—I volunteered for 20 hours every week for more than 25 weeks.”
Sudhir said it was particularly important to him to help people at a time when there were added pressures to everyday life.
“There was an element of worry in the community—they were worried for their own health and the health of their loved ones.
“It was therefore my pleasure to continue offering our services to those who needed it and throughout such a trying time.
”The Council took every precaution to ensure the health, well-being and safety of everyone visiting the Norwood Town Hall where the Justice of the Peace Volunteers are based, by reconfiguring office layouts, ensuring physical distancing protocols were adhered to, and undertaking regular cleaning of high touch services.
“The type of work involved with being a Justice of the Peace means I get to meet people from all walks of life and I get a great sense of satisfaction from giving back to the local community.”
To find out more about Justice of the Peace services, visit: Justice of the Peace
St Peter's Billabong volunteer
Just three kilometres from the centre of Adelaide CBD and a stone’s throw from the River Torrens, the St Peters Billabong is a local treasure which is home to a thriving ecosystem—and a popular place for families and friends to spend time with nature.
The billabong and its surrounding natural landscape have been carefully nurtured over many years by a group of professional and passionate Volunteers, including Nadia McLaren.
"The St Peters Billabong is a beautiful place offering multipurpose spaces for everyone to enjoy."
Volunteering at the billabong for more than ten years, Nadia brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as an ecologist —eclipsed only by her commitment to restoring the billabong to its natural state pre-European settlement.
Nadia says that volunteering is ideal for people who are in transition.
“Whether moving into the workforce or into retirement, or moving to a new suburb, state or country, volunteering in the local community is a great way to form connections to people and place.”
Nadia says that the work carried out by Friends of the Billabong promotes a healthy lifestyle.
“Our work affords us all the opportunity to connect with nature, environment, people and self.”
“Everyone is welcome to our group and the billabong. It’s a rewarding way of contributing to the local community while
learning about and raising awareness of the values of our natural environment.”
Volunteering in our City Our Volunteers make significant contributions to the well-being of our City, by giving their time and skills for the benefit of others.
For more information about Friends of the Billabong or to become a volunteer, visit: Friends of the Billabong (FOB)
Community Visitor Scheme volunteer
Ayu Pamungkas is a 27 year old international student from Indonesia.
Currently studying her first year of a Master of Social Work, Ayu has been volunteering with the Council’s Community Visitor Scheme since July 2017, regularly visiting her client at Trowbridge House.
“This role has proved to me that money does not always make people smile but kindness does. When I visit we talk a lot about her life and sometimes I read her a magazine. It’s simple but we both look forward to our time together. I feel full and happy after every visit - my day is always better.”
Reflecting on herself in the early days of her volunteering, Ayu attributes her own personal growth and development to her volunteering.
“My communication skills have improved and I have developed a new level of empathy. At first I felt challenged, but after a few visits with my client I began to feel more confident in my purpose. I now look forward to our time together as we’ve developed a beautiful friendship.”
Ayu suggests that there are three key ingredients in dedicating yourself to a volunteer role, particularly with the Community Visitor Scheme. “Communication and just being yourself are essential, but most importantly, your willingness to contribute. People can feel it if you do it with your heart.”
Remembering Kingsley Turner
The late Kingsley Turner was a committed and passionate volunteer with the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters, who worked tirelessly to restore and maintain the St Peters Billabong.
Kingsley was formally recognised by the Council for his extensive and valued contributions when he was awarded the Council’s 2009 Citizen of the Year Award.