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Moving volunteering into the 21st century
According to Angela Seach – Principal Organisational Development Consultant at CFA and the newly appointed Chair of the Volunteering Victoria Board – there is more we can do to eclipse old school perceptions of volunteering.
“Historically volunteering tended to be seen very much as a hobby, something people did in their spare time,” Angela said.
“But without volunteers, and effective management of volunteer workforces, some of the most important aspects of our communities would simply cease, and communities would be poorer for it.”
Earlier this week, CFA celebrated International Volunteer Day, a day when the global community gets together to recognise and thank all volunteers for their contribution to their communities.
Angela said it’s important to recognise the important role CFA brigades play in building community cohesion and resilience, and she is looking forward to using her new knowledge from the broader volunteering sector to support her work with CFA’s Volunteerism and Brigade Support Teams.
“These teams are working to create great new leadership development, culture, and diversity initiatives for both staff and volunteers,” she said.
Volunteering Victoria advocates at the federal and state level for better recognition of the role volunteering plays in communities. The peak body recognises that volunteering needs to be nurtured, but also volunteer-based organisations need to change in order to meet the needs of people who will volunteer in the future.
“Volunteer-based organisations like CFA face barriers in engaging and retaining volunteers, which can be related to time commitment, ineffective skills matching, cultural differences, and even physical blockers,” Angela said.
“That’s why we need to be clever and flexible about how we do things. People don’t want to sign up to an organisation for life anymore – people in our society want to volunteer, but they need it to fit into their lifestyles, otherwise it can’t be maintained.”
Since joining the Volunteering Victoria board in 2012, Angela has contributed to the growth of the peak body, which has now tripled in size and established a stronger advocacy role. Their current campaign, The Power of Association, is all about collaboration and sharing.
“Volunteering Victoria strives to support a volunteering community that is inclusive and sustainable,” Angela explained.
“The recent State Volunteering Awards showcased the commitment and impact of Victoria’s volunteering programs and volunteer managers. CFA should be very proud of the award we received for inclusion.”
Angela also plans to continue Volunteering Victoria’s work encouraging large private corporations to get their staff involved in volunteer-based initiatives that match their unique skill sets.
“If you think about it, a person who works in risk management can easily be released for 2-3 days to support a not-for-profit or local community organisation to develop a new risk framework,” she said.
“The opportunities are endless; people just need to be aware of the different models of volunteering that are available to them.”