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CFA on Youth Volunteering panel
Youth volunteers - a waste of time or a new paradigm?
Youth Programs Manager OTV Sherri McKerley and 3rd Lieutenant Nicole Crow from Crib Point Fire Brigade were panellist this morning at the Volunteering Victoria discussion on Youth Volunteering.
The forum brought together panellists from key volunteering organisations across Victoria who rely completely (or in large part) on volunteers to operate, including Netball Victoria, Red Cross and SYN (Student Youth Network )media.
The audience was represented by CEOs, staff and volunteers from a variety of youth and volunteer organisations across Victoria interested in gaining ideas, and representing view points in the engagement, development and recognition of young volunteers.
In a facilitated discussion, the audience and panellists explored why and how young people volunteer, and how organisations can adapt to harness the energy and power of youthful creativity and enthusiasm, not just to achieve great results for their cause or service, but for long term survival.
With questions such as; Do young people really want different things from volunteering or the same things, but packaged differently? Are we wasting ourtime trying to think of ‘new ways’ to engage with young people? What things have worked? What does Volunteering in the future look like?
Sherri spoke about her findings from12 years of working with Junior Brigades and young members, surprising audiences with the large number of youth volunteers in CFA (9000 Senior Members 16-24 years and 2300 Junior Members 11-15yrs). Audiences were also surprised at the number of opportunities the CFA can offer young people, both in regards to the many roles available and the nationally accredited training and leadership opportunities.
Nicole, who also works for FIRS, is a 3rd Lieutenant and one of 267 Officers under 25, was invited to talk about how she became a member and her experiences volunteering as a young person in the organisation. As the granddaughter of a captain who served in the position for 42 years and both parents’ operational firefighters, Nicole was more born into CFA, than joined it, but offered a positive perspective on both the challenges and rewards young people can gain from volunteering with CFA.
It was a great opportunity to celebrate the work of our current young members, have an open discussion on the key challenges faced by volunteer agencies in engaging young people and to look at ways to be more open to different ways of volunteering for the future.