SA Launches Historic Volunteering Strategy
18 February 2014 at 9:45 am
South Australia has launched a Volunteering Strategy in partnership with government, councils and business, plus a government promise of added ‘volunteer thank you’ incentives such as time-sharing and reward programs.
The Strategy was jointly developed by a partnership between Volunteering SA&NT, the South Australian Government, the Local Government Association and Business SA.
Volunteering SA&NT CEO, Evelyn O’Loughlin said the historic strategy is a collaborative blueprint for action that sets in place the vision for volunteering in South Australia over the next six years.
Volunteers will be able to receive discounts on goods and services to thank them for their efforts under initiatives announced by the South Australian Government to coincide with the launch of the Strategy.
SA Minister for Volunteers, Tony Piccolo said the Government plans to introduce two new programs – the Volunteering Recognition Scheme and a time-exchange program – to reward volunteers for their efforts.
“Under the Volunteering Recognition Scheme, the Government will partner with local businesses who would then provide goods and services – such as discounts, free tickets or promotional offers – to volunteers.
“Through the time-exchange program, volunteers will be able to ‘exchange’ donated hours with services or support from other volunteer organisations,” Piccolo said.
The Strategy identifies barriers that prevent volunteers from participating as much as they would wish and recommends how they can be addressed. It also promotes opportunities to engage those least likely to volunteer.
It sets out a framework of priorities and an action plan to support decision making and policy development over the next six years.
“The Strategy will improve the experience of volunteers, enhance outcomes for volunteer involving organisations, and help meet the target set in South Australia’s Strategic Plan to maintain a volunteer participation rate of 70% or better,” O’Loughlin said.
“It is important that this historic Strategy has been collaboratively developed, is sector-led, and has cross-sector support,” she said.
"When you consider that the current value of volunteering to the South Australian economy is worth around $5 billion, it makes sense to do everything you can to support, grow, and enhance that asset.
“This Strategy is crucial for the development of South Australia because the actions to come out of it will help build resilient communities and resilient people.
”The world around us is changing and we must be able to identify and address the issues of volunteers and volunteer involving organisations. It is no secret that their role continues to become increasingly significant in a tightening economy. Beyond that, it is crucial that everyone who wants to contribute to society through active citizenship, can do that,” O’Loughlin said.
Piccolo said that the Strategy will provide great opportunities for the State Government to better align priorities with the needs of local communities.
“We’re fortunate to live in a state where so many people are prepared to donate their time and energy to help others,” he said.
“But the face of volunteering is changing – we’re getting a new generation of volunteers who have different goals, different requirements and need a more flexible way to get involved with their community.
“This Strategy is about ensuring we have a contemporary approach to the support, recruitment and retention of our volunteers – so they can continue to do extraordinary work in our communities.”
Business SA CEO, Nigel McBride said people of all ages can, and should, become involved in volunteering.
“At any stage of life volunteering can progress personal and professional development, improve inter-personal skills, encourage community participation and in some cases be a pathway to employment,” McBride said.
Local Government Association Acting President, Mayor Lorraine Rosenberg said there are more than 10,000 volunteers on council books across the State.
"We are more than happy to partner in this Strategy to make volunteering more accessible and a more positive experience for those involved, both volunteers and those who work with them," Mayor Rosenberg said.
The Volunteer Strategy for South Australia 2014-2020 can be found here.