Centre for Participation has launched its contribution to a project designed to better understand and enhance volunteering for strengthening the community.
The overall project is about Building Strong and Resilient Communities and is currently operating in five different locations across three states.
It looks to support different aspects of social cohesion, given all the different roads and motivations to volunteering, the ways to engage and the barriers to volunteering, and the different types of volunteering and voluntary activities.
In the Wimmera, our particular focus is on how to better support informal volunteering. This is partly because it is so uncommon to have full-time volunteer managers in our region, but also because of the vital importance to our communities of community organisations, led by volunteers and where volunteers fulfil operational tasks.
“We’re particularly interested in in the volunteer roles where people wouldn’t describe themselves as volunteers,” Manager Good Governance Development Alistair Shaw, who is leading the project locally, said.
“We want to understand how to better support the people who say ‘I coach the juniors’, ‘I’m the Treasurer so I’m working on the budget’, ‘I’m on the committee so I’m welcoming the new people today’, or ‘I need to set up the hall for tomorrow’. These are all voluntary tasks but not often described, or thought about, in that way,” he said.
“We also want to help the groups to consider their contribution to social and community cohesion beyond what they might think they do, and how their facilities can be considered community assets.”
“Ultimately, we want to know systematically what we can do to as a centre that supports volunteering to make the governance, management and operational tasks of volunteers easier, so they achieve more and better contribute to our community as a whole. This is both what we can do differently but also what needs to change at a local, state and federal level to help that”.
Activities will be based on individual action plans, and evaluating the success of those plans for each group.
However, wherever this can involve workshops or training they will be made available for people from other groups too.