“It’s best to start early”: Meet the 17-year-old from Margaret River who volunteers with five different organisations


At just 17 years old, Joshua Yates has already volunteered with five different organisations, from emergency services to film festivals.

Joshua Yates is an exceptional young person who dedicates a significant amount of time each week to support a number of different communities in a varied range of roles.

He first started volunteering to get involved in organisations and the community when he was too young for paid employment. He never let his age get in way of making an impact, volunteering as young as 10-years-old to help with administrative and maintenance activities at the Margaret River State Emergency Service. Josh saw volunteering as a way to get involved in the community, learn, and try out interesting jobs.

Josh is passionate about emergency services, sports and the arts, and his volunteering resume reflects that.

He has been a valuable asset to the Margaret River SES unit since the age of 10. When Josh turned 14 he joined as a cadet, and then began formal training. By 16-years-old he was an active member within the organisation, attending two emergency incidents in his first week. Since then he has consistently attended weekly SES training and on average, attends an emergency callout every month. He is also part of the Wallcliffe Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, where he is an operational firefighter.


For Josh, adrenaline is a big part of volunteering in emergency services – but it’s also being able to see the impact you’re making firsthand. “There’s excitement in helping people, a sense of doing something right, and of really making a difference. You can see the difference you make during a call-out, you can see that at the end the person is much better than when you first got there. You can see the effect of what you're doing really quickly, which I like.”

Josh contributes significantly to the Margaret River SES unit, wearing many volunteering hats: in addition to being a Rescue Team Member, he is the unit’s Communications Officer, Stocks Officer, assists with the unit’s social media and publicity, and does weekly maintenance on radios and PPC. His passion for film and photography has benefitted not only the SES unit, but also the local arts scene in Margaret River.

For the past five years, Josh has been volunteering for Arts Margaret River at the Margaret River HEART, through ushering, assisting with community events, and technical assistance. From 2021-2023, he also volunteered as part of the Movie Crew for Cinefest Oz as a meet and greet usher.

“I really loved the arts because it’s all about people and the community,” says Josh. “For me, it’s very rewarding because it’s such a different environment with different people – it’s hugely different to school. I have learnt respect and social skills; how to interact with elderly people and diverse groups I wouldn’t normally interact with. And socialising is a big part of it – it’s great fun and I learn how to work with diverse groups.”

Over the past four years, Josh has also been involved with sports, volunteering for Football Margaret River as a referee, coach and athlete. For two years Josh coached a junior team, which included obtaining formal coaching accreditation to further expand his knowledge and skills.

For all that he gives back to the community, it comes as no shock that Josh is a well-respected and valued member of the Margaret River community. He expects nothing in return, and volunteers because he genuinely loves what he does. “For me, personally, it doesn't really make a difference to me whether I get paid. It’s not about getting paid money. I volunteer because I enjoy what I do, and I'd do the same job if I was getting paid. For example, with the Margaret River HEART, I was volunteering, and now I am also a casual employee in a similar role. I do it because I enjoy the job, and it’s a great way to get started in an industry or job. I volunteer in areas I am interested in working, and I think that will be the future,” says Josh.

When asked if he would recommend volunteering to other young Western Australians, Josh says he “definitely” would. “Once you reach 17 or 18 there’s more pressure to start making money and to get a job. I recommend volunteering younger than that, like I've done, because it's a great chance to get difference experience while you're in school. You can build a wide range of skills and a wide range of knowledge.”

“Volunteering is a chance to get out there while you're still a kid, and you don't have to fully commit to anything, and to try all these opportunities. Now I've got these skills and experience, I can start to earn money from it, and build a career from what I have learnt through volunteering.”

Volunteering WA would like to thank Joshua for his contributions to the community and for being a positive role model to other young Western Australians.