subscribe to careers
Sponsored  |  CareersVolunteering

Building communities in a changing environment

Tuesday, 14th May 2019 at 8:23 am
Volunteering Victoria chief executive Scott Miller discusses some of the themes he sees as being relevant to this year’s National Volunteer Week forum on social policy.

Tuesday, 14th May 2019
at 8:23 am



Building communities in a changing environment
Tuesday, 14th May 2019 at 8:23 am

Volunteering Victoria chief executive Scott Miller discusses some of the themes he sees as being relevant to this year’s National Volunteer Week forum on social policy.

Volunteering Victoria’s National Volunteer Week forum is an annual opportunity to explore and engage in broad topics relevant to the contemporary environment of leaders of volunteers.

In previous years, this forum has explored ethics and leadership in the sector. This year, we are delighted to be exploring the theme of social policy through our lens of “Leaving no-one behind: Building communities in a changing environment”.

Introduced by Parliamentary Secretary for Volunteers Lizzie Blandthorn MP, Professor Paul Smyth will provide the keynote, before a panel of four experienced sector leaders will link Smyth’s points to their perspective on our sector’s current and emerging challenges and opportunities.

In this blog I explore some of the themes I see as being relevant to this year’s forum.

We all agree volunteering is transforming as rapidly as society is generally. We know this through the tensions we hear in the language of our own organisations and government, when members start being referred to as customers and communities start becoming known as client-groups.

In amongst the change in language, there is an increasing malaise towards our government and the architects of social policy. Such institutions are losing trust through their reluctance to include people in the issues where we find volunteers performing their best – contexts where the stakes are high, values are disputed and facts uncertain.

In 2019 and beyond, volunteering remains the best means of public participation we have available to increase the social capital required to keep pace with social change.

Volunteering offers people a sense of agency, responsibility, and connection against isolationism and individualism. Volunteering opens the space for people to grow communities and support those currently being left behind.

During such times, studies have found that social policy improves through better collaboration between government and citizens, government agencies feel more accountable, and have increased knowledge and information of their citizens.

As leaders of volunteers where do we fit into this shift?

Too often we are consigned to the administration of programs. Programs that have turned the art of human connectedness from transformation to transaction. KPIs that have turned metrics of volunteers recruited, retained and recognised, into graphs devoid of the true outcomes that volunteers often quietly deliver across our communities on a daily basis. While this is not a new challenge, social policy shifts of late mean we, as leaders, find ourselves in the familiar position of advocating for the true value of volunteering to be recognised and remunerated.

So what is it that we have been missing/ignoring?

Is it that we are just too busy keeping up with our “customers’” needs that we have forgotten the common wealth in common effort? What successes have we not been amplifying loud enough to replicate?

These are questions I hope you will join with me to explore at our event with Lizzie Blandthorn MP, Professor Paul Smyth, Bernadette Northeast, Nick Tschuck, Penny Aquino and Volunteering Victoria board member Andrew Coghlan.

Register here to attend:

Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at

Get more stories like this



Setting your 2020 vision for government engagement – a checklist

Andrew Blyberg

Thursday, 16th January 2020 at 7:30 am

Does volunteering overseas enhance your career?


Monday, 13th January 2020 at 8:00 am

The must do’s for 2020 grants success


Thursday, 12th December 2019 at 7:30 am


How are Aussie charities helping in the bushfire crisis?

Luke Michael

Tuesday, 7th January 2020 at 3:21 pm

What impact will the bushfire crisis have on homelessness?

Luke Michael

Wednesday, 15th January 2020 at 4:28 pm

The rise (and scepticism) of Facebook fundraisers

Maggie Coggan

Thursday, 16th January 2020 at 8:49 am

NDIS not yet in tune with the needs of participants

Luke Michael

Monday, 20th January 2020 at 4:46 pm

subscribe to careers
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!