Grey Nomads' As Volunteers
25 September 2006 at 1:09 pm
Volunteering Australia is carrying out a two-year national research program promoting the development of Volunteer projects in outback towns for Grey Nomads – people over 50 who travel around Australia!
VA has formed a partnership with Professor Jenny Onyx (University of Western Sydney) and Associate Professor Rosemary Leonard with funding from a Commonwealth ARC Grant to carry out the project.
The project aims to:
– Identify criteria for Grey Nomads to be willing and able to engage in volunteering in isolated rural communities
– Support isolated towns to address their development needs through voluntary programs for Grey Nomads
– Document, evaluate and support the towns’ implementation of the programs
– Develop social capital theory in the context of shifting populations
– Inform models of short-term volunteering for older people generally
Volunteering Australia says Grey Nomads are defined as people aged over 50 years, who travel around Australia and spend considerable time exploring the inland of Australia and visit many outback towns.
The organisation says Grey Nomads make a substantial economic contribution to rural communities. They have a wide range of skilled trades that could be of use to people in isolated rural communities on a volunteer basis.
Most try to experience all that an area has to offer before moving on, extending their stay if there are activities of interest. They are enthusiastic about experiencing and learning about the outback. They value the information provided by locals.
Volunteering Australia says there has been much documented about the decline of rural towns. The research will explore the untapped potential for the development of mutually beneficial relationships between Grey Nomads and isolated rural communities through voluntary programs.
The research will have two components:
1. Surveying the needs and interests of Grey Nomads as potential volunteers – an online survey is being conducted through the VA website and is being distributed in hard copy form through selected networks.
2. Visiting, and working with selected outback towns to develop volunteer programs that would be of interest to Grey Nomads.
This will involve:
– A local organisation hosting the project in each selected town.
– A research project team visiting the town at a time negotiated with the host organisation and conducting a town meeting to introduce the research project.
– Conducting a SWOT analysis that will involve interviews with representatives of all town stakeholder groups.
– A task group of interested townspeople identifying strategies for the town and forming a working group to develop a program
– Volunteering Australia and the researchers providing ongoing support to the towns and projects through email and telephone contacts.
The research is expected to be completed in late 2007. It is planned to produce a report of the project and a guide book to volunteering for Grey Nomads.
Towns for the project will be progressively identified and negotiated with interested parties. The first towns to participate will be Barcaldine and Winton in Queensland in September 2006.
For more info go to the Volunteering Australia website at www.volunteeringaustralia.org.