Margaret Russo, Dulcie Court, Margaret Wigmore, Judith Cook. PICTURE: PHIL ROGERS
FOR more than 25 years, volunteers at the Parramatta Family Law Courts have lent an ear to those in need.
Now, as many of the mature-age helpers decide to retire, there is a genuine fear that the group’s dwindling numbers will leave visitors and their families without support.
For Paul Le Large, the contribution of the mature-age volunteers within the court complex is vital.
“On a busy day, there could be about 50 to 100 people who just want to have a chat or a cup of coffee and their demeanour toward the volunteers has always been of deep gratitude,’’ he said.
“They really respect them for the care they are showing.’‘
The Parramatta Family Law Courts comprise the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia and are a busy hub of activity with dozens of cases seen each day.
There are three volunteer groups at the court but the most short-staffed is the Interdenominational Parramatta Family and Local Court Support Group.
For its 70-plus members the task of assisting those in need is becoming harder each day.
“We need about 100 people to properly provide the care we want to, but we’re running short,’’ said volunteer Margaret Wigmore.
“Our core role is to provide tea and coffee facilities, a smiling face and an ear for those in distress.’‘
The volunteer services at the court began more than 25 years ago in reaction to a lack of support and positivity in a place that sought to resolve often stressful and upsetting family disputes.
Today, volunteers come to court for one day every month and donate about three hours of their time.
“Many of the volunteers started in their 50s when their children finished school and now they are in their 70s and 80s and can’t keep up with it all. But the demand for services is still there.’‘
Volunteer Justice of the Peace Rosslyn Fowler, 75, comes into the Parramatta Family Law Courts every Friday.
“Not only is it a good community service but once you retire you feel you aren’t part of the community any more. I value coming here and I would say to anyone who is retired that this is an important place for those with time on their hands to give back to the community,“ she said.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer at the Family Law Courts, please contact Paul Le Large on 9893 5504.