Althea Oliver and her husband Robert volunteer once a month for a couple of hours at the Ballarat Farmers Market run by BREAZE. They are so dedicated to helping out that they plan their holidays around the 4th Saturday in the month, so they don’t miss their turn!
Q&A by Tarn Kruger with Althea
Q: Where did you grow up?
Althea: I grew up in Hamilton, SW Victoria, I left home at 12 to go to Boarding School and then I completed tertiary studies in Ballarat. The fond memories of Ballarat saw me return in 2003.
Q: What is the one best thing for you about living in the Ballarat region?
Althea: Like-minded people, all through our involvement in community groups such as BREAZE, we have found people with similar interests, ethics, values and priorities. The things we value, are about the environment and how people are treated and we like living within a community that cares.
Q: Tell me about your involvement in BREAZE and the main activities you have been involved in over the years?
Althea: When we came to Ballarat 13 years ago, not long after our hot water service blew up, and through BREAZE we installed a solar hot water system. It must have been one of the first, as a photo was taken for promotion. And then we were one of the first to install solar panels through the community scheme. Using renewable energy was something we always wanted to do to and our move to Ballarat and BREAZE made it happen. Then when BREAZE started running the Farmers Market we wanted to be involved, as in previous years we had run a nursery and attended markets and knew the value of organisational support and volunteers, so we really like helping out.
Q: What is your favourite book or movie or TV show and why?
Althea: Well we don’t watch much TV nor go to the movies much, but both of us are veracious readers, Robert likes crime, ‘who dunnit’, but I prefer science fiction, although sci-fi books now are more about fantasy and as a scientist I like speculative fiction. Now I am reading more non-fiction and would recommend Tim Lowe’s ’Where Song Began’ and Bruce Pascoe’s books, ‘Dark Emu’ and ‘Convincing Ground’ and these have made me realise how much of history is written from the conquerors’ perspective.
Q: What was your favourite game or activity as a child?
Althea: Board games, such a Monopoly and we often played cricket in the street and the neighbour’s dog was the best fielder.
Q:What about your hobbies now?
Althea:Gardening, growing plants, we like to visit art galleries and I like to listen to classical music
Q: If you could choose any person in the world (living or dead), who would you most like to meet?
Althea: Buddha, Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, and Barak Obama, I know that is more than one!
Q:What environmental issue do you feel most passionate about?
Althea: A whole range, mostly about maintaining the quality of the environment and saving endangered species. We were involved in trying to protect the Eastern Barred Bandicoot, but unfortunately the 10 year drought meant that it is now likely extinct on the mainland.
Q: What is most rewarding thing about volunteering for you?
Althea: Seeing people happy
Q: Finally, if you could have ultimate say about the future of the world or had a magic wand, what one action would you make happen?
Althea: Limit population growth, reverse the growth as there are now too many people in the world for us to achieve equity and sustainability.
Thanks to Althea for sharing a little bit about her life and interests.