NSW Govt Backs New Volunteering Strategy with $2M Funding
10 May 2016 at 10:46 am
More than $2 million will be invested on initiatives to recruit, support and recognise volunteers in NSW, as part of a new four-year strategy released by the state government during National Volunteer Week.
The minister responsible for volunteering, John Ajaka, released the second NSW Volunteering Strategy 2016-2020 hot on the heels of the federal budget, which saw a significant drop in volunteer funding over the next four years, as well as new data confirming that volunteering rates in NSW and Australia were under pressure.
“A key focus of the NSW Volunteer Strategy is making it easier than ever for people to volunteer. We are investing in new and better ways of connecting people who want to make a real difference with organisations who need their support,” Ajaka said.
The strategy highlights six priority action areas, including an emphasis on making better use of new technology to attract more volunteers.
“As part of the NSW Volunteering Strategy, a new volunteer recruitment website will be developed that will enable volunteers to find opportunities in their local communities, and support organisations to advertise volunteering roles,” Ajaka said.
“Furthermore, a new mainstream media campaign will also be launched to recruit more people to volunteering and help them navigate their way to new opportunities.”
He said the strategy would also expand the Statement of Principles for the Recognition of Volunteers, which promotes dignity and respect for 800,000 volunteers in NSW, as well as increased support for the Volunteer of the Year Awards and the Premier’s Volunteer Recognition Program.
The strategy also includes the development of the NSW Volunteering Participation Portal and apps that are relevant to people from different backgrounds and ages, and with varying degrees of technology literacy, particularly for people with disability.
Online tools to support volunteers transitioning to new roles and expanding the use of volunteer “timebanking” for people across all life stages will also be developed.
“The NSW Volunteering Strategy 2016-2020, is a four year plan that will build on the accomplishments of the first. The Strategy recognises that everyone who wants to volunteer should be supported to do so,” Ajaka said.
“We know that decisions people make early in life influence their later lives, so there will be a strong focus on attracting young people to volunteering. People who are newly retired, or nearing retirement, will also be supported to explore the range of volunteering opportunities in their local communities.
“Many volunteers are contributing in new ways, participating online, in corporate volunteering programs, or informally volunteering in their local neighbourhoods. People want to volunteer when and how they can.”
New Volunteering Australia data released in April confirmed that volunteering rates in NSW and across Australia were under pressure, and that organisations needed to better align volunteering opportunities with the interests of prospective volunteers.
In line with the recent ABS data signifying a 5 per cent decline in volunteering over the past five years, the State of Volunteering in Australia report indicated that volunteers were feeling the pressure, that they were time poor and those barriers to volunteering needed to be removed.
The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said the government strategy and funding was a positive step when volunteering was a crucial factor in building healthy communities.
“In particular, the marketing piece around selling volunteering, the investment in professional development that was a positive step in enhancing volunteer management and the support for acknowledging volunteers through awards.
“Australians are still keen volunteers with 5.8 million Australians (or 31 per cent) volunteering in the past 12 months,” Rygate said.
She said it was important to highlight that modern volunteering need not be time-consuming, including online and one-off volunteering.
National Volunteering Week runs from 9 to 15 May.