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Over the past year, we invited a broad range of Victorians to tell us about their volunteering experiences.

This included their perspectives on how to strengthen and support volunteering. Our consultation included volunteers themselves, volunteer leaders and coordinators, CEOs and committee members.

More than 10 per cent of the people we heard from speak a language other than English at home. About 1 per cent identified as Aboriginal, 6 per cent identified as LQBTIQ+, and more than 7 per cent identified as a person with disability.9

We heard that volunteering offers positive health and wellbeing outcomes for people, communities and the environment. We heard that it helps deliver vital services. But many people noted the challenges presented by the changing volunteering landscape and called for improvements.

You made it clear you want a system that offers volunteering experiences that are meaningful, empowering, supported and inclusive.

Through these consultations, seven main themes arose that describe your hopes for volunteering into the future:

  1. Inclusive, intersectional and responsive – volunteering opportunities represent and respond to the diversity within our communities and are inclusive of all Victorians including:
    • Aboriginal people
    • people from multicultural communities
    • people with disability
    • people of all ages, genders, sexualities and localities.
  2. Empowering – the motivations, barriers and needs of volunteers are understood and supported.
  3. Flexible – volunteering opportunities and options to meet the changing needs and motivations of volunteers, such as short-term, episodic, and virtual volunteering.
  4. Accessible – Victorians of all backgrounds, skills and motivations can access a range of volunteering opportunities, resources and training that suits them.
  5. Connecting – volunteering can connect Victorians to their community and create pathways to education, training and work.
  6. Recognised and valued – volunteers, both formal and informal, are celebrated and recognised for their contributions.
  7. Collaborative – existing and new partnerships within the volunteering ecosystem are strengthened to create more opportunities for all.

Case study

SES volunteers work around the clock for people needing emergency help

Volunteers at the Victoria State Emergency Service (SES) in the South Barwon Unit commit to ongoing weekly training. They offer a 24/7 operational service. SES volunteers respond to road crash rescue events and to storm and flood emergencies within the community. They do this alongside Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria and Victoria’s fire services.

One such volunteer is Anne, who has been a member of VICSES for almost seven years. This is quite an achievement given that the average length of service is five years. Although she did have an operational response break, Anne still maintained service by assisting in other roles in the South Barwon Unit during her break.

SES volunteer members commit to a role that can be both physically and emotionally draining. Their duties often mean putting their own lives on hold to respond to emergencies. The SES benefits the community by providing a free service to assist those in need. Their reputation is such that they have earned the confidence and trust of the community, who see them as professional and reliable.

SES volunteers say they enjoy three things most. They enjoy the tasks they undertake, the camaraderie between members and, knowing they are doing something to help the community.

Footnote

[9] Engage.VIC Survey 2021, Community life and volunteering survey. Retrieved from: https://engage.vic.gov.au/External Link

Reviewed 19 May 2022

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