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States Revel in International Volunteer Day


Thursday, 5th December 2013 at 10:50 am
Staff Reporter, Journalist
Peak volunteering bodies across Australia are celebrating International Volunteer Day.

Thursday, 5th December 2013
at 10:50 am
Staff Reporter, Journalist


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States Revel in International Volunteer Day
Thursday, 5th December 2013 at 10:50 am

Peak volunteering bodies across Australia are celebrating International Volunteer Day.

It marks the 27th annual International Volunteer Day (IVD), which was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1985 with the theme of Young, Global and Active.

Victoria

Volunteering Victoria is set to launch a statewide grassroots campaign urging Victorians to harness the power of volunteering – and not to take volunteers for granted.

The peak body is calling for applications from community-based organisations to be among the first 12 subjects of the campaign, which will roll out across Victoria in the first half of next year.

"We are aiming big with this campaign," Volunteering Victoria CEO Sue Noble said.

"Ultimately we want to involve communities everywhere and empower volunteer managers with resources to promote the real and profound value of volunteers in their organisations and in their communities – but in this first phase we will focus on 12 organisations that reflect the breadth and diversity of volunteering in Victoria.

“From aged care, health services, animal rescue, refugee support through to sporting organisations, the campaign will show that volunteering is a powerful activity that can be measured in both economic and social terms, relying on strong imagery and a team of skilled volunteer photographers who have responded to a call to assist in making the campaign come alive.

“The volunteer photographers – who have submitted folios from fields as diverse as high fashion to travel, art and photo essayists – will be matched to the community organisations successful in the first application process and briefed to take strong professional images relevant to the organisation."

With sponsorship for this first phase provided by ExxonMobil Australia, Noble said interest was growing by other organisations keen to show their commitment to volunteering.

Community organisations can apply to be among the first 12 to have their organisation’s work showcased, by downloading the Application form online and submitting by 17 January 2014. More information is available here.

New South Wales

The NSW Government has announced a new employee volunteering program at the Cancer Council NSW headquarters as part of International Volunteer Day.

The NSW Government’s Office of Communities is introducing an employee volunteering program to allow staff to volunteer one working day per year with selected organisations including Cancer Council NSW, the Red Cross and the RSPCA.

“As the Minister responsible for volunteering, I am proud that staff working in my agency will be supported in their endeavours to help these great organisations,” Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, said.

“One of my priorities is to encourage more corporate volunteering particularly among small to medium businesses. It is important that NSW Government agencies lead by example. This is a small but important step.”

NSW Office of Communities CEO Donna Rygate said that over half of her staff already volunteer in their own time – almost double the Australian average.

“We had great feedback from our people when the idea was proposed and I think the new program will go a long way towards encouraging more volunteering,” Rygate said.

Jim L’Estrange, CEO of Cancer Council NSW said: “Cancer will affect one in two people during their lifetime and volunteers play a major role in helping us to provide critical cancer prevention, research, advocacy and support services.

“Without the generous support of volunteers, we simply wouldn’t have such a broad reach into the community to help save lives and support those facing cancer in their time of need.”

Encouraging corporate volunteering is a key component of the NSW Government’s Volunteering Strategy.

Queensland

Volunteering Queensland has launched its Futuring Volunteer Management Report at its AGM as part of International Volunteer Day.

The report highlighted a rapid increase in university students volunteering and seeking professional skill development via service learning placements and internships in Queensland.

However the report said that despite the increasing supply of volunteers this trend generates, volunteer managers also noted that university student volunteers were short-term, high turn-over, frequently absent, and also, students do not foresee the implications these habits have for volunteering organisations.

The report also pointed to the growing complexity and risk-averse nature of legislative frameworks (for example, security checks) and Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) procedures were proposed as slowing volunteer recruitment in that state.

Specifically it said volunteers and organisations were “bound in red-tape”, with security checks (for example, Blue Cards) and safety and liability concerns (for example, taking on elderly volunteers), increasingly slowing the volunteering process.

The report looked at

  1. Trends affecting volunteering within their organisation

  2. Challenges affecting volunteering within their organisation

  3. Best practices for recruitment and retention

  4. Critical changes necessary for a bright volunteer management future

The report found that the most common were critical changes in volunteer management were “increased volunteer training opportunities” and “increased promotion of volunteering”.

Interestingly, however, Volunteering Queensland said the findings suggest that certain “typical” issues (for example, training and volunteer-position matching) and conventional best practices (for example, volunteer acknowledgement and inclusion) also remain important.

“Therefore, when preparing for changes expected over the coming years, the integration of both new and conventional approaches appears necessary,” Volunteering Queensland said.

Tasmania

With Tasmania’s volunteering population set to age dramatically over the next 38 years, the focus of this year’s International Volunteer Day is placed on the contribution of young volunteers acting as agents of change in communities.

“Currently Tasmanians aged 65 and over account for 1 in 5 of the State’s volunteers, but in 20 years this will increase to 1 in 3 of our volunteers, or one third of Tasmania’s entire volunteer population,” Volunteering Tasmania’s CEO Adrienne Picone

“Last year’s state of Volunteering Report 2012 outlined eight recommendations to ensure the sustainability of Tasmania’s vital volunteer sector, including the importance of engaging and working with all generations and age groups to ensure a viable volunteer community.”’

Picone said one year on from the release of that report, Volunteering Tasmania was now unveiling the SOVR Annual Report Card to track the progress of the report’s recommendations.

This latest Report Card concluded that ‘one of the main focuses of addressing an ageing population is how to engage with a larger group of older Tasmanians and the opportunities this offers our communities. However, the overarching approach for the recommendations is that all age groups need to be engaged in volunteering and volunteer-delivered services to meet our future needs’.

“While the process of creating the SOVR, the research, the conversations with stakeholders, the recommendations themselves and the subsequent discussions with the community itself have contributed to change, a range of strategic activities have also been put in place,” she said.

“These include VT’s new workforce development and communities practice group, volunteer management arrangements with Aged and Community Services Tasmania, a statewide volunteer management review of Meals on Wheels’ 33 programs, a volunteer management review at Glenview Nursing Home and a review of VT’s Schools Project.”

South Australia, Northern Territory and Western Australia

As part of the celebrations, Volunteering SA&NT is supporting a Youth Volunteer Forum at South Australian Parliament House, hosted by Tony Piccolo, the Minister for Volunteers. It will be attended by young volunteers across the State. The theme of the Forum is: Volunteering – does it give you an edge?

Recommendations from the forum will help inform the development of a Volunteering Strategy for South Australia.

Western Australia is celebrating International Volunteer Day with a “music in the park” event.

Taking place in Chichester Park in Woodvale the concert will feature Kim Churchill, Polly Medlen Band and Tash Shanks and participants have been asked to wear something red  in honour of volunteerism.


Staff Reporter  |  Journalist |  @ProBonoNews


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