Program aims to create culture of volunteering in Tasmania
22 August 2022 at 7:57 pm
Designed to celebrate Tasmania’s young volunteers, the program also allows them to use their experience for education and employment opportunities.
A new youth-based volunteering program that will recognise the volunteer efforts of young Tasmanians aims to create a culture of volunteering in the state.
Volunteering Tasmania has partnered with Student Volunteer Army New Zealand (SVA) to trial a youth-based volunteering program that recognises the volunteer efforts of young people in Tasmania.
The program will link volunteering with employment and education, demonstrating young people’s interests and skills to potential employers.
But more importantly, it will celebrate the efforts of youth volunteers and the work they put into their community.
The Tasmanian government has provided funding for the program to the tune of $300,000 over three years.
The launch of the program comes as volunteering reaches a crossroads, with volunteer numbers dropping around the country.
Volunteering Australia is currently working on a National Strategy for Volunteering to help guide the sector into the future.
Speaking to Pro Bono News, Volunteering Tasmania CEO Dr Lisa Schimanski said the crisis in volunteering couldn’t be ignored.
“However, there’s a persistent dogma that young people don’t volunteer, and we really want to bust that. It’s just not true. All of the stats show that young people, particularly 15 to 17 year olds, do volunteer in some of the highest proportions of any age group, and we really want to celebrate and recognise that so that’s where the Youth Volunteer Army comes in,” she explained.
By recognising and celebrating volunteering, the organisation hopes to encourage other young people to take up volunteer opportunities, whether with their local arts or sports clubs, or with wider social issues like the climate crisis or plastic pollution.
Schimanski said the Youth Volunteer Army would help promote volunteering more widely too.
“Volunteering is an invisible workforce. It does massive amounts of economic and cultural and social good and we need to get that recognised more. We absolutely need to promote the value of volunteering and the impact of volunteering.”
She hopes the program will become embedded in every high school and college in Tasmania as part of the education curriculum, and be used in students’ career pathways.
There’s also potential to roll the program out to other states around Australia.
Meanwhile, students in Tasmania are getting stuck into the program. Among their ranks is Owen, a student at Rosny College. He is a student climate activist who has worked on the School Strike for Climate in his local area, the Bob Brown Foundation and the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.
He said the program was easy to be involved in, with volunteers tracking their hours in an app and website which creates a record of volunteering activities.
“That can really stand in your favour [in job interviews], it shows that you’re out there supporting your communities, standing up for what you believe in, and definitely shows employers that you’ve been working hard and they should employ you based on that,” Owen explained.
“I’d really like to see the youth volunteer army spread across the Australian education system. I think it’s a really positive resource not only for schools but for individuals, and I think everyone can use it to their advantage in lots of different situations.”
To find out more about the Youth Volunteer Army, visit the Volunteering Tasmania website.
Volunteering strategy releases organisational perspective
Earlier this month, Volunteering Australia released early insights into the thoughts of organisations on volunteering, part of a series of research reports that will inform the creation of the National Strategy for Volunteering.
1,208 organisations responded to the survey, with the majority of respondents being managers or coordinators of volunteers.
Most of the organisations that responded engaged volunteers in regular, ongoing roles.
According to the report’s early findings, volunteers make a positive contribution to the organisations that responded in areas like effective service delivery, and bring new insights into the organisation.
Demand for volunteers is also strong, with 83 per cent of respondents saying they needed more volunteers either immediately or in the near future. Of these, 11 per cent reported needed more than 101 volunteers in the short term.
The report also identified challenges facing their volunteer management, including complex administrative requirements, volunteers unable to volunteer due to COVID-19, and a decline in volunteers working for the organisation.