Shake Up in Volunteer Peak Bodies
5 January 2016 at 10:46 am
There is to be a new year shakeup in Australia’s volunteering peak bodies as the CEO of Volunteering Western Australia, Mara Basanovic, takes over the top role at Volunteering Queensland after eight years in the WA job.
The move coincides with the fifth anniversary of the 2011 Queensland floods which claimed 35 lives and affected more than 200,000 people, but also revealed an incredible community spirit.
The response was described at the time as the largest volunteer effort in Australia’s peacetime history.
Volunteering Queensland said at the time, that while it had been a time of heartache and loss for many, it also saw an unprecedented volunteering effort and that much was learned from the experience. However the Queensland peak body’s leadership roles had remained unsettled in 2015.
Mara Basanovic will leave Volunteering WA to take up the appointment as CEO of Volunteering Queensland on 11 January this year and replace Perry Hembury, who has been acting in the position and will move back into an operational role.
“This new role has many synergies as well as many differences to my position as CEO of Volunteering WA,” Basanovic said.
“Until the new CEO is in place… it is business as usual at Volunteering WA with no interruption to the high level of service all at Volunteering WA strive to deliver.
“I personally look forward with excitement to joining the Volunteering Queensland team and to the opportunities and challenges this new role offers.
“I look forward to learning from the team and sharing knowledge, visions, strengths and experiences.”
CEO of Volunteering Tasmania, Adrienne Picone, applauded the appointment of Mara Basanovic to Volunteering Queensland.
“For the stability of the network I think the appointment is very positive,” Picone said.
Basanovic’s appointment also comes as new research is being undertaken by Cancer Council Queensland into how and why Queenslanders volunteer.
Researchers at Cancer Council Queensland and Griffith University have received a $220,000 Australian Research Council grant to improve understanding of motivations for volunteering.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO and lead researcher, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said the study could help to improve social and economic wellbeing by stimulating volunteering.
The project will also involve partners at the American Cancer Society, the Union for International Cancer Control, and Volunteering Queensland.
A spokesperson for Volunteering Queensland told Pro Bono Australia News that the big issues facing Queensland were trying to increase volunteers and the funding and delivery of volunteer management programs.
In June 2015 new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed volunteering rates in Australia were declining for the first time in almost 20 years, with 75 per cent of people surveyed saying they felt too rushed or pressed for time.
Results of the ABS 2014 General Social Survey provided a snapshot of Australia’s progress on aspects of wellbeing, such as life satisfaction and community participation, and reported that volunteering in Australia had fallen by 5 per cent since 2010.
Volunteering Australia CEO Brett Williamson said at the time that the rate of volunteering was a key indicator of healthy communities and any decline in community participation was troubling.
“It raises questions about whether our social capital is being eroded, and if it is, why is that happening and how can we reverse the trend?” Williamson said.
“The ABS report shows that in 2014, 31 per cent of Australians volunteered compared to 36 per cent just four years ago.”