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A new vision for the future of volunteering in Victoria

Delivering a volunteering community that supports and benefits Victoria – its people, communities and organisations

This strategy was developed to emphasise the importance of volunteering. Its aim is to reinvigorate and sustain volunteerism in Victoria and to:

  • support a connected and inclusive society
  • build stronger, more resilient communities
  • provide opportunities for people to become more involved in community, through giving their time and expertise.

Removing barriers to inclusion and ensuring access needs to be at the heart of our approach to ensure as many people as possible benefit from volunteering.

Statewide consistency and measures to strengthen and support volunteering are so important so that every volunteer shares similar organisational conditions. The best way to achieve this is through ‘place-based’ approaches that bring together partners from across sectors to support community-led and -designed initiatives towards the community’s desired local outcomes.

A place-based approach recognises that people and places are interrelated. The places where people live, learn, work, play and volunteer have an important role in shaping their health and wellbeing. At their core, place-based approaches are local solutions for a local community, leveraging local strengths.

Formal volunteering needs to be more flexible to respond to the changes people have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. People want more options for how they can take part, including shorter-term and one-off opportunities.

Volunteers need to feel empowered and respected. Within an organisation, volunteers are no different from other employees in this respect. They deserve support and the structures to ensure their experiences are positive. When experiences aren’t positive, there must be effective processes to deal with it.

For many volunteers, taking part is a springboard to a job or retirement. It may be a bridge to their local community. For those engaging in formal volunteering, our goals recognise that well-designed and well-run volunteering can build lifelong skills and create long-term friendships.

All volunteering has intrinsic social and economic value for the community. In formal settings, volunteering has immense benefits for organisations seeking support and volunteers looking to learn and grow.

The contribution that informal volunteering makes must be recognised and valued. Although contributions may often seem small in themselves, together they are critical to maintaining connection and healthy communities.6

Connecting and activating communities is an important primary prevention measure for disadvantage, isolation, mental health and at-risk children and families. A culture of informal volunteering is the hallmark of a resilient community. People who have significant others in their lives who volunteer are more likely to volunteer themselves.10

A successful Victorian volunteering community is one that:

  • encourages formal and informal volunteering
  • values smaller acts of kindness and support alongside more structured activity.

Large-scale changes have affected the volunteering landscape over recent years. Our shared goals need to therefore be set to maximise meaningful participation. They must also recognise that the volunteer environment now requires greater creativity and flexibility in the way people volunteer.

Opportunities to volunteer may not mean face-to-face activity in every case. The supports for volunteers need to be more sensitive and attuned to changes in people’s views of their personal health and wellbeing while volunteering.

The Strategy will be reviewed and refreshed in 2024 in the context of preparations and planning for the Commonwealth Games and the critical role volunteers will play in success.

Footnotes

[6] Warburton J, McLaughlin D 2005, ‘“Lots of little kindnesses”: Valuing the role of older Australians as informal volunteers in the community’, Ageing and Society, 25(5): 715–730

[10] Ramaekers MJM, Verbakel E, Kraaykamp G 2021, ‘Informal volunteering and socialization effects: examining modelling and encouragement by parents and partner’, Voluntas. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11266-021-00315-zExternal Link

Reviewed 19 May 2022

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