Australians Urged To Volunteer in the Disability Sector
8 December 2017 at 12:51 pm
To help meet the surging demand for disability workers under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a new campaign has been launched to get more Australians volunteering in the disability sector.
Volunteer For Disability is a new campaign created by leading disability services organisation Interchange Incorporated.
The campaign’s goal is to “raise awareness of the power of volunteering in the disability sector and to recruit volunteers to help support people with a disability and their families”.
Kerry Uren, the executive officer at Interchange Incorporated said: “Volunteering is a fantastic way for people to give back to their community and to support people living with disabilities, and now more than ever we need people willing to donate their time.”
While four million Australians live with a disability and require volunteer assistance, there is currently a severe shortage of volunteers.
This demand has only increased with the roll-out of the NDIS, with 60,000 new disability workers needed by 2020, according to a report from the Productivity Commission.
“There is already more than 1,000 people with disabilities on waiting lists for volunteers across Interchange’s member organisations in Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia, and demand for services is expected to surge as the NDIS rolls out,” Uren said.
Interchange will also look to address the disability worker shortage by providing volunteers with a career pathway into the disability sector through free accredited online training.
“With the NDIS creating tens-of-thousands of new jobs in disability services Australia-wide, volunteering can be a pathway to a new career, as well as a way to make a real difference,” Uren said.
“Our new online training program will give volunteers a head start on a career in disability services, adding to the incredible practical experience they get from volunteering.”
Haley Langtree, a volunteer at Interchange South Australia, said volunteering was a valuable pathway into working in the disability sector.
She said the experience she had gained as a volunteer would give her a real head start into the industry.
“Volunteering has given me the skills I need to work in disability. I feel like it’ll be a pretty easy transition—this sector is going to be calling out for new workers,” Langtree said.
“Even if you’ve got a full-time job, you can still consider volunteering. This is something that truly matters. It’s an honour more than it’s time out of my schedule.”
Marie Lugg, the Interchange Inner East executive officer, added that volunteers from all walks of life can make a huge difference in the community.
“Some stand out examples include the families who volunteer to support children with disabilities in their home, or the people who mentor a young disabled person, or help in running camps and other fun activities,” Lugg said.
This comes after concerns were raised in The Productivity Commission’s NDIS costs report from October, that some volunteer organisations were finding it difficult to provide supports to eligible scheme participants.
It recommended that the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) consider: “Whether volunteer organisations should be funded to cover both the initial costs of connecting participants with volunteers and ongoing costs of volunteer management [and also] whether this is best done through line items for scheme participants or through a more direct funding arrangement with volunteer organisations.
“Trialling different funding arrangements to cover ongoing costs of volunteer management and collecting data on the outcomes of participants that use such services to better evaluate the costs and benefits of volunteer organisations providing scheme supports over the longer term [should also be considered].”