The contribution of volunteers to the community will be recognised through a series of awards announced today to mark the opening of the Volunteer Fair at Fremantle.
Community Services Minister Eric Ripper said the Difference Awards would recognise individuals and programs that had made a positive difference to the quality of life for people and the community as a whole.
"Tens of thousands of Western Australians each day freely give their time or services to a whole host of activities including services for youth, the aged, migrants and conservation," Mr Ripper said.
"The awards are an appropriate way of recognising this invaluable contribution."
The awards are being sponsored by the Volunteer Centre, the Lotteries Commission and Life Be In It. They will be presented on International Volunteer Day, December 5.
Mr Ripper said that as well as enhancing the quality of services offered to the community, volunteering also gave the community a greater ownership of local issues and services.
"Volunteering also helps develop the skills of others who become involved as well as developing networks and relationships within the community," he said.
"However, the community also has a responsibility to volunteers through training and support, protection through insurance, appropriate supervision and recognition.
"This is why the State Government provides funds for various programs such as $74,000 to the Volunteer Centre and $53,000 to help run the retired seniors volunteer program.
"The Government's Social Advantage strategy also included new initiatives such as funding for part-time officers to organise and mobilise community volunteer services and ensuring that the skills of volunteers are accredited by the State Employment Skills Development Authority.
"The Government also will introduce a Community Links and Networks program - CLAN - to co-ordinate, support and train volunteers who in turn can help isolated people and families by putting them in touch with appropriate local services."
Mr Ripper said programs nominated for a Difference Award did not have to be new but they must have improved the quality of life in the community and provided opportunities for volunteers with special needs .
The awards would recognise individuals and programs in fields such as welfare, sport, health, arts, environment, heritage and education.
The closing date for entries is October 30. Nomination forms are available through volunteer programs or from the Volunteer Centre, 79 Stirling St, Perth.
The Volunteer Fair at Fremantle is open between 10 am and 3 pm in the Fremantle Town Hall.