Volunteer Body for Volunteers
1 August 2013 at 10:25 am
A group of community advocates and social entrepreneurs has launched a new volunteer organisation to ensure that the voice of the ordinary volunteer is properly reflected in public conversation,it claims.
The newly incorporated association set up in South Australia is called The Voice of Australia's Volunteers and aims to tap into the ‘foot soldier’ volunteers across Australia with a national promotional tour in September.
The spring-board for the new organisation has been the Centre for Civil Society founded by Victorian by Vern Hughes.
A campaign to set up a peak body for Australia’s voluntary community groups was first considered in 2012 but it wasn’t until a national workshop in February 2013 established an inaugural Leadership Council.
The newly appointed President and former “Golden Guru” volunteer mentor with Volunteering SA and NT who goes by the intriguing name of Fuzzy Trojan says there is a growing awareness within State bodies representing the volunteer sector that they need to become more attuned to volunteers and not just to the organisations which use them.
“This new body will be better fitted to speak for volunteers than paid staff,” he said.
“A strong independent voice for volunteers is missing and is essential to the future of volunteering. It is vital that harmonious interaction occurs between the paid and unpaid voices of volunteering for the sector to be healthy.
Trojan says there is currently no public volunteer voice drawing attention to the changing issues around volunteering for example, workers who are asked to get involved in corporate volunteering projects or governments passing community service delivery to NFP organisations which use volunteers rather than paid workers to deliver these services.
“On 3 June 2013, a national voice for Australia's volunteers and volunteer-driven Not for Profits was formed in Adelaide as an incorporated association.
“There are 6.4 million volunteers in Australia and 600,000 community organisations and Not for Profits. About 35,000 of these 700,000 groups employ one or more staff.
"The other 665,000 do not employ staff and rely solely on voluntary resources in serving their communities and generating social capital and belonging.
“These 6.4 million volunteers and 665,000 voluntary community organisations are unrepresented and without a voice in the public arena.
“When governments consult with community organisations, they talk to the 5% of organisations with paid staff and service delivery contracts, and ignore the other 95%. When governments consider volunteering, they talk only to organisations that use volunteers, not to volunteers themselves.”
The new organisation will begin its membership campaign in September, the same month that the National Volunteering Conference will be held in Adelaide.
Fuzzy Trojan says the organisation will be offering tiered memberships for individuals who volunteer, for volunteer-driven Not for Profit organisations and ‘Circles’ of any nine volunteers who decide to form a group and register it with the association.
“Ordinary people now have a greater voice than ever before, governments and power holders are being challenged as never before. Volunteers have not yet joined up and created a strong public voice but it is inevitable that they will,” Trojan said.
Other office bearers include Vice-President Carmel Daveson AM, from Mackay in Queensland who was awarded the Order of Australia for services to Community, Education and Arts and is also the President of The Handbell Society of Australasia.
The Treasurer is Darren Andrews, from Marden in South Australia, who is a volunteer with St. Johns Ambulance and the State Emergency Service. He has been a volunteer swimming coach with Special Olympics, a community radio presenter and a bus conductor with his local council assisting senior citizens.