New National Volunteering Standards
12 May 2015 at 12:14 pm
Significant changes to national volunteering standards have been introduced to coincide with National Volunteer Week, and include a strong focus on reporting and measuring volunteer involvement.
The new volunteering standards have been introduced “to reflect best practice in volunteer management in Australia’s current work environment,” according to Volunteering Australia.
Volunteering Australia’s new National Standards for Volunteer Involvement were launched to mark the start of National Volunteer Week 2015 and include a focus on monitoring and reporting on an organisation’s performance with volunteer involvement to the governing body, employees, volunteers and stakeholders.
Volunteering Australia CEO Brett Williamson said that the new standards had been designed to adapt to different types of organisations and the many different forms of volunteering reflected in the sector’s growing diversity.
“The benchmarks contained in the Standards will help organisations attract, manage, recognise and retain volunteers, as well as to manage risk and safety with respect to volunteers," Williamson said.
“A 2009 review and a more recent consultation identified the need for revising the standards along the following lines of simpler and clearer language, an ability to apply them to different organisation types and forms of volunteering, especially taking into account the more recent developments in corporate volunteering, and incorporating good examples from international volunteering standards.
“The new Standards provide an exceptionally sound framework for supporting the volunteer sector as it is today and in the future.
"Importantly, the Standards will lead to an improved volunteer experience, which is critical given the vast number of Australians who volunteer – approximately six million.
“The value of their efforts to the Australian economy was most recently estimated at $290 billion (O’Dwyer, 2014). It makes sense then, to ensure volunteers are happy and fulfilled in their roles.”
Williamson said the CEOs of Volunteering SA & NT, Volunteering Tasmania and Volunteering WA had worked for many years to review and develop the Standards on behalf of Volunteering Australia, with Breaking New Ground as the project’s principal consultants.
Under the new Standards there are eight areas addressing key volunteer involvement:
1. Leadership and management
The governing body and senior employees lead and promote a positive culture towards volunteering and implement effective management systems to support volunteer involvement.
2. Commitment to volunteer involvement
Commitment to volunteer involvement is set out through vision, planning and resourcing, and supports the organisation’s strategic direction.
3. Volunteer roles
Volunteers are engaged in meaningful roles which contribute to the organisation’s purpose, goals and objectives.
4. Recruitment and selection
Volunteer recruitment and selection strategies are planned, consistent and meet the needs of the organisation and volunteers.
5. Support and development
Volunteers understand their roles and gain the knowledge, skills and feedback needed to safely and effectively carry out their duties.
6. Workplace safety and wellbeing
The health, safety and wellbeing of volunteers is protected in the workplace.
7. Volunteer recognition
Volunteer contribution, value and impact is understood, appreciated and acknowledged.
8. Quality management and continuous improvement
Effective volunteer involvement results from a system of good practice, review and continuous improvement.
“The review of the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement has been a critical project. The original standards were written in 2001 and since then, the Australian work environment has changed considerably, including changes to the Work Health and Safety Act covering volunteers,” CEO of Volunteering SA & NT, Evelyn O’Loughlin said.
“Volunteers’ expectations and attitudes have also changed over time. They have stronger views on how they expect to engage with an organisation, and how they expect to be treated by an organisation to which they commit their time and skills. Significantly, the volunteer sector has also changed in that time, having adopted a professional approach towards volunteer management.”
Volunteering Australia said guidance on applying the Standards will be provided via comprehensive implementation resources.
Additionally, Volunteering Australia said it will be working with Breaking New Ground to develop a flexible, tiered voluntary certification, or ‘Quality Mark’ system, to enable organisations to check how they are tracking in implementing the Standards.
The theme of this week’s National Volunteer Week is Give Happy, Live Happy.
View the new Volunteer Standards HERE.
This National Volunteer Week, take a look at Pro Bono Australia's Skill Volunteer service here.