The city’s visitor services coordinator, Mirianne Whitlock, said the pandemic has halved the number of volunteers and the council needs more.
“It’s a very diverse team with many backgrounds and languages, which I love,” said Whitlock. She tries to reconcile the language and cultural backgrounds of the volunteers with the backgrounds of visitors arriving at the international cruise terminal.
While many red shirts are retired, Whitlock said younger volunteers and international students – and their mobile phone skills – are very welcome.
Volunteers found it a good way to get to know Sydney and meet other people. “They form close friendship groups,” she said.
Ibrahim began volunteering after her marriage failed and she realized she had only been to town twice in eight years. She wanted to break out of her bubble in a “good way” and experience what Sydney has to offer.
After working at a daycare center with people from multicultural backgrounds, she said that helping visitors from all over the world isn’t all that different, but is a lot more fun.
Sydney Ambassadors complete a one day training course and are required to have good customer service skills, local knowledge and be able to stand for three to four hours per shift.
You must also be ready to answer endless questions about the activities and places to see and how to get there. The most common question: ‘Do I need an Opal card to use public transport?’ Unlike Victoria, NSW public transport users can hop on and off using credit cards or contactless payments via a mobile phone.
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