In 13 years as a volunteer with Southcare, 78-year-old Peter Cole has changed the lives of almost 3,500 local families in the City of South Perth with emergency relief, which he says is “all part of the job”.     

He changes lives by providing food, medical, transport, utilities, and clothing vouchers for people in immediate and urgent crisis.   

“I meet with Centrelink clients for three hours every week, assessing their situation and deciding if they are eligible for emergency relief assistance, as part of Southcare’s Community Support program.”   

“Sometimes it is people in domestic violence situations, other times people need help to pay their bills, or families might need help at the start of the school year because their money has been spent on education supplies needed to support their children when they go back to school,”. 

Southcare CEO Dr Nicky Howe said while Peter doesn’t see himself as a changemaker, the work he does continues to change lives. 

“His role is always busy and ever demanding. People who visit him are in significant crisis. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the call for help from Peter has intensified,” Dr Howe said.  

 Community Support Manager Duncan Edgar echoed that sentiment. 

 “The multiple impacts of the pandemic crisis on people with low incomes, first nations people, people from diverse backgrounds and people with vulnerabilities are affecting them much harder than people with greater resources. Numbers of people needing help continue to increase,” Mr Edgar said. 

Peter’s role as a change maker comes from good standing with 39 years’ experience working in a bank.   

“I have a passion for people and being a helper, so I knew I wanted to do something finance-related after retiring at the age of 65,” Peter said.   

Peter’s efforts and contribution to the community has been recognised with two awards this year.  The first saw him named as the 2023 Senior Citizen of the Year and the second as the “Helen Moore Leadership and Service Award”.  

National Volunteer Week runs from 15-21 May and the theme this year is “the change makers”. 

If you have caring hands and want to be a change maker, reach out and make a difference today. 

Join us!