Save the Children and Volunteering Australia join forces to reignite volunteer workforce
24 November 2020 at 12:42 am
It’s hoped the partnership will drive a rethink of the value of volunteering in Australia
With the outbreak of COVID-19 closing a door for many on in-person volunteering for the best part of 2020, Save the Children is partnering with Volunteering Australia to help bring back the charity’s volunteer workforce at a time they are needed the most.
Prior to the pandemic, over 2,500 volunteers worked with Save the Children Australia (SCA) across fundraising, retail and program support.
But Jo Watson, the director of supporter engagement, told Pro Bono News one of the challenges facing the organisation post-COVID shutdown was getting their volunteers feeling safe enough to come back on board.
“There’s been a lot of nervousness and anxiety about the virus, and volunteers are feeling that because they are coming back into a really different environment where people are having to clean all the time and have a whole range of added duties,” Watson said.
She said she hoped the partnership between SCA and Volunteering Australia would help spread the message that it was in fact safe to return to volunteering and that they were actually needed more than ever.
“The need for volunteers is still there, and organisations have done a lot and put a lot in place to make sure that the environment is safe and our volunteers are protected,” she said.
SCA CEO Paul Ronalds added that 2020 had been an incredibly difficult year for children, but it had also been a challenging year for volunteers who work so hard to make a difference for those children.
“Without the support of volunteers, we could not continue our work to protect and support children across Australia and around the world. We need them now more than ever,” Ronalds said.
Watson said it was also important to recognise that the benefits of volunteering went beyond the work done with the charity.
“Volunteering is also so much about community connectedness, well being and improved mental health,” she said.
“The average age of our volunteers and our retail networks is about 65 and for many of those people, Save the Children is their community and it’s their family.”
Beyond the charity
Under the partnership, the two organisations will explore key focus areas including how to attract more volunteers to the sector and resources to better support them; encouraging a whole-of-government volunteering strategy to be developed with the sector; and promoting and celebrating the contribution of volunteers.
Mark Pearce, the CEO of Volunteering Australia, said that COVID-19 could actually be an opportunity to reshape how Australia values volunteering.
“We require a broader recognition of the whole-of-society benefits volunteering delivers,” Pearce said.
“Volunteering Australia is therefore delighted to be partnering with Save the Children to further highlight the importance of volunteering and ensure Australians have the opportunities to offer the time and expertise so vital to guaranteeing children in our communities continue to have a voice and a champion.”