G'day Toronto

Daniel Johns

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

For four days Dundas Square became a portal to Australia with the G’day Toronto Tourism Expo. In a huge tent, temperature controlled to a balmy 27 degrees, a series of events promoting Australian Tourism were held and Simon and I voluteered to help out (tickets to all the events where sold out by the time we got wind of the expo so this was the only way to get in).

Our first event was the Silverchair and Living End concert on Thursday night. Despite being at the entrance checking in coats we got to listen to both bands and the volunteers took turns at sneaking in for a few songs. Unfortunately Simon got reassigned to the building across the street for the last couple of hours and so didn’t really enjoy the night.

I also volunteerd at the Expo on Saturday, where Canadian’s had the opportunity to handle a baby croc, pat a red cattle dog, try some Penfold’s and bowl a cricket ball. To my dismay no one was selling Vegemite.

Whilst there were a few highlights, we were a little disappointed with the organisation of the volunteers. We were given late notice of our shifts, breaks weren’t organised, and at times we felt like our presence was not really appreciated. I don’t think that the events company was use to managing volunteers and they had little regard for the fact that we were donating our time. Having said that we met some really nice people and were able to enjoy a little bit of home away.


5 thoughts on “G'day Toronto”

  1. I find your comments about the treatment of volunteers in Canada very interesting Gem. My experience at both the the Olympics and the World Cup Rugby were that the volunteers here were treated better than the paid employees – we were giving something of value and the response of volunteers was invaluable as ambassadors of the games.
    I would be interested in how voluntary action is seen in Canada versus Australia. In OZ the bush fire brigades, life savers, blood donors and so many other community organisations were started by volunteers and have proudly continued that way ever since.
    I am concerned however that the division of the workforce here into permanently part employed (poor) and permanently over employed (rich)and the stress on double working families is having an impact on this aspect of Australian culture



  2. Hi Gary,

    Simon commented to me, only the other day, that he was suprised by the event given your experiences. I guess that in Australia there is a history of volunteering and therefore events management comanies are better equipped to manage volunteers. I don’t get the impression that volunteering is as culturally ingrained here, except perhaps in the junior hockey leagues, whereas like our sporting clubs, they are largely run by parents.

    Rather than speculate I found this website http://www.volunteeringandgiving.ca, the ‘2004 Canada Survey of Giving, Volunteering and Participating’ shows that the most common area of volunteering is arts,culture and recreation, with about 8% of Canadians volunteering in that area. The ABS released the following report, ‘Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2004’, and whilst this is a rough comparison, it reports that in cultural and leisure activities approx 12% of Australians were involved in unpaid work.

    A bit of a difference, but still a considerable number of Canadians do volunteer. For the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver it is estimated that 25,000 volunteers will be required, so that should bump up the stats a bit.

    As for Simon and I, our next volunteering gig will most likely be at the Kirrawee Bowls Club, and they treat you pretty well there!


  3. I remember reading once that the Australian volunteer ethos grew out of our isolation in every sense we were then “end of the world”.

    I think if you think of things like all the Australian service clubs, Lions, Rotary, Apex .. while sometimes they might have been seen as an excuse to get together for a drink, their reason for existence was fund raising for local causes.
    When you come home maybe you might get the chance to help out at the bowly … and a few other volunteer projects.
    Tell Simon I want award winning images from the dog sledding



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