Goal one: Making volunteering inclusive and accessible

The success of volunteer-involving organisations (VIOs) relies not just on volunteers being motivated to volunteer in the first place, but also being motivated to sustain their volunteering efforts over time.

To deliver inclusive volunteering and broaden and diversify the volunteering community, engagement must also be inclusive. For some groups, such as young people, digital tools such as social media are critical, for others face-to face engagement is essential. Regardless, engagement must be authentic and genuine to deliver higher and sustained engagement levels.11

Of fundamental importance to achieving inclusive and accessible volunteering is to work towards greater cultural understanding and a shared definition of what it means to volunteer.

Volunteering fosters social connection and inclusion. It helps to strengthen the fabric of our society. For members of newly arrived communities, for example, volunteering can offer opportunities to experience Australian workplace culture. This will increase their social and community connections.

This is closely associated with achieving Goal five: Ensuring volunteering is recognised and celebrated and requires informal and formal volunteering to be integrated. We need to incorporate the concept of community-giving. This is more closely aligned with First Nations peoples and multicultural communities’ perceptions of volunteering.

In formal settings, organisations and managers may need to adapt to ensure they create inclusive environments to support the needs of all volunteers. Creating and adapting roles that consider the strengths, interests and expertise of volunteers will help ensure volunteering is welcoming to everyone. (This also referred to as a ‘person-centred’ approach.) This is no matter their age, background, skill levels or abilities. This will require a broad range of resources and training to be available for managers of volunteers.

In ensuring volunteering is inclusive and accessible to all Victorians, some barriers may need to be overcome. For example, the volunteering community has reported more people with disability looking for volunteer opportunities than there are suitable roles. Often, this is because organisations do not feel prepared to recruit and provide the required support to volunteers with disability.12

Volunteers in regional Victoria face different challenges from metropolitan volunteers. These include ageing and declining populations and higher costs linked to distance and limited transport options. This can present significant challenges to VIOs, particularly in recruiting and managing volunteers. Often these organisations play a vital role in delivering essential services to their communities. Continuity and sustainability are therefore of great importance.

The basis of this strategy is that all Victorians deserve the opportunity to reap the benefits of volunteering. These benefits are both for themselves and for their community. This is regardless of their background, abilities, culture, language, gender, age, sexuality or location.

Supporting everyone to volunteer in ways that consider their needs and goals requires the leaders of volunteers developing the right skills to do so effectively. By striving for greater understanding and responsiveness, VIOs can break down barriers to volunteering across a range of demographics and cohorts.

Focusing on place-based supports, such as through Volunteer support organisations (VSOs), will help smaller VIOs create inclusive volunteering opportunities that respond to the needs of their local area. This support will tie in with online services in training, volunteer matching and access for IT-literate volunteers.

Priority outcomes

  • Volunteers and volunteering opportunities represent the breadth of the Victorian community.
  • Socioeconomic and structural factors and discrimination relating to culture, ethnicity, religion, Aboriginality, disability, gender identity and sexual orientation that present barriers to taking part are reduced to support opportunities for a broader range of community members.
  • Volunteer-involving organisations (VIOs) employ inclusive engagement strategies to broaden and diversify the range of people recruited and maintained as volunteers in their organisations.
  • Partnerships between VIOs and organisations with specialist expertise in diverse communities to provide pathways to volunteering and to increase the capacity of VIOs.

Priority actions

  • VIOs to use a range of inclusive engagement practices and measures to attract, recruit and support a diverse range of people in volunteering opportunities, including:
    • volunteering opportunities advertised through a broad range of networks in accessible formats and a number of languages,
    • face to face and digital methods used to engage potential volunteers,
    • providing application, screening and induction processes in inclusive, accessible and culturally safe and appropriate formats.

This action will be delivered in years 1 to 4.

  • VIOs to form partnerships with VSOs and organisations with expertise in engaging with diverse communities to build organisational capability, and pathways to volunteering.

This action will be delivered in years 1 to 4.

  • The Victorian Government, in partnership with local governments, to investigate how to embed support for inclusive volunteering in place-based, local government area and state government strategies.

This action will be delivered in years 3 to 5.

  • Volunteering Victoria, VSOs and VIOs to showcase how actively engaging in partnerships can assist organisations to attract and support volunteering for a broad range of people. This includes addressing any barriers to access and participation for Aboriginal Victorians, people from multicultural communities, people with disability and people of all ages, genders, sexualities, and localities, and ensuring that volunteering opportunities are culturally safe.

This action will be delivered in years 3 to 5.

  • Volunteering Victoria ensures that the regular State of Volunteering report includes data on a broad set of demographic factors.

This action will be delivered in years 1 and 2.