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Games Volunteers - A Cause Celebre

27 March 2006 at 12:03 pm
Staff Reporter
The Commonwealth Games have been an opportunity to showcase Australian values to the world, to demonstrate unity, commitment, can-do attitude, friendliness and good humour according to Volunteer Patron Raelene Boyle…so what value the volunteer!

Staff Reporter | 27 March 2006 at 12:03 pm


Games Volunteers - A Cause Celebre
27 March 2006 at 12:03 pm

The Commonwealth Games have been an opportunity to showcase Australian values to the world, to demonstrate unity, commitment, can-do attitude, friendliness and good humour according to Volunteer Patron Raelene Boyle…so what value the volunteer!

The Independent Sector, a US Not for Profit, has just released it’s latest assessment of the ‘cost of volunteers” and puts the estimated value of a volunteer hour in 2005 at $AUD25.11.

So with Games officials estimating that over 1 million workforce hours have been distributed to the volunteers that’s a whopping $25 million in value!

Raelene Boyle says the level of interest and enthusiasm in volunteering at the Games has been overwhelming.

She says that during the Games, Victoria was buzzing with the energy of up to 15,000 volunteers delivering a unique and successful Commonwealth Games experience.

Boyle says that whilst she represented her country in many sporting teams from the Commonwealth Games to the Olympic Games, they could not have been made possible without the valuable support of Volunteers.

Academic Melanie Oppenheimer put a different perspective on volunteering in a commentary on ABC radio during the Games.

She says volunteering has become a ‘commodity’ to be bought and sold. To the extent that in January 2005, Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, announced funding worth $18.2 million to plan, recruit and train the 15,000 volunteers required for the Melbourne Games.

Oppenheimer is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Humanities and Languages
at the University of Western Sydney.

In her radio commentary she said volunteers did many of the tasks that in the1956 Olympic Games the Army did; they also did jobs that in 1956 people were paid for; and they did do jobs that in 1956 were simply unheard of.

Oppenheimer concluded that the fundamental ideas that money and sport are incompatible are long gone. This, in turn, has directly affected the role played by volunteers, the unpaid workers, who are now really worth their weight in gold.

Whatever the dollar figure the social capital is priceless…here are some of the facts and figures on the Games Volunteers:

– Up to 15,000 national and international volunteers were recruited for the Games.

– 22,000 people applied for the 15,000 volunteer positions in January 2005 in only eight days.

– Over 100 volunteers were from overseas, including 30 Commonwealth nations. Volunteers came from over 1500 cities/towns from right around the world, including volunteers from Malaysia, USA, Canada, India, China, Qatar, Fiji and the Isle of Man.

– About 11 per cent of volunteers came from interstate, with the majority of those coming from NSW, Queensland and Western Australia.

– There are 460 volunteer roles available during the Games at more than 80 competition and non-competition venues. Volunteers were based across Melbourne at sporting grounds, in the public domain and at regional Victorian sporting venues

– Volunteers were chosen under the criteria of: flexible, adaptable, reliable, have a positive ‘can do’ attitude, effective communication skills and above all – a team approach!

– The average volunteer commitment was between 60 and 100 hours, although some roles were over a greater period of time and required a much greater commitment.

– The largest contingent of volunteers working on any one day during the Games was 9449 volunteers on 21st March 2006.

– The oldest volunteer is a Spectator Services Assistant, 88 years of age from Toorak, Victoria.

– The youngest volunteer is a Ballperson, 15 years of age from Melbourne, Victoria.

– Each volunteer undertook a minimum of three sessions of training for their Games time role, including orientation/induction at TEAM2006 Unite (training event held at Telstra Dome on 10 December 2005), role-specific and venue-specific training, and in some cases leadership training.

– The official training provider for the Games was Holmesglen Institute of TAFE.

– Over 400 ‘long-term’ volunteers have worked with the organising committee behind the scenes, in some cases as long as two years, to help plan and deliver the Games. These volunteers have typically worked a day per week, depending on their availability, and have been an integral part of the Games.

– Volunteers received uniforms, meal vouchers and free public transport in metropolitan Melbourne (Zones 1, 2 and 3) and $10 discounted V-Line fares for Victorian regional volunteers coming to the Games.

If you were involved as a Volunteer in the Commonwealth Games – Congratulations! We’d love to hear your experiences. Just send us an email to

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