Over six million Australians volunteer their time to those in need, and they have been recognised during National Volunteer Week.

Volunteering Illawarra held its annual expo to showcase many volunteer organisations in Wollongong today. The expo informed and encouraged people to become volunteers.

Volunteer Illawarra’s Paul Kaiserfeld said the expo encouraged people to explore a variety of volunteer organisations, and the opportunities on offer.

Across the Illawarra there are hundreds of volunteer programs ranging from disability services, employment training, conservation programs and childcare.

“What we generally say to people is choose what you would like to do based on your own interests and hobbies, in saying that aged care has definitely one of the largest needs with a range of jobs available,” Mr Kaiserfeld said.

It is estimated there are 2.4 million volunteers in New South Wales, and that they give billions of dollars to their communities.

Volunteering Illawarra said 80 per cent of non-government organisations could not function without the help of volunteers.

Tom Nicholls is a State Emergency Service (SES) volunteer. He said volunteering changed his life for the better. Last December, a tornado ripped through the Sydney suburb of Kurnell, and it destroyed everything in its path.

Mr Nicholls said the people of Kurnell were extremely distressed about fallen trees, flooded roads and collapsed homes, but the mood changed when the SES arrived.

“I think once people see the orange suits they’re a bit more relaxed and they are a little more hopeful,” Mr Nicholls said.

Mr Nicholls said he didn’t want to sit around at home after finished high school and wanted to give his time a good cause.

He has volunteered for the SES for the past three years.

“I think there is a really good sense of self-satisfaction and also the rewards you get from seeing people wave after you’ve finished the job for the night,” Mr Nicholls said.

For more information, visit Volunteer Illawarra.