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Volunteers can play an integral part in delivering services to the community and hence it is vitally important to ensure volunteer programmes are effective and sustainable.
In the lead up to the Australian Community Workers Conference and Exhibition 2014, we had the chance to speak to Sue Noble, CEO of Volunteering Victoria who will be presenting at the event on the topic “Imagine the Possibilities: the Power of Volunteering to Build/Transform Communities and Lives”.
Are you able to give us a brief overview of Volunteering Victoria and any particular projects/initiatives that you are prioritising in 2014-2015?
Sue: Volunteering Victoria is the state peak body for volunteering and we have a singular and specialised focus on volunteering. We see our role as leading the development of a collaborative, sustainable, thriving volunteering community and movement in Victoria.
Our priorities for the next 12 months (dependent on funding!) include:
The management of spontaneous emergency volunteers, including the recruitment, training and deployment of emergency volunteer managers
Recognition of the value and importance of volunteer management
Volunteering in sport
Employee volunteering, working closely with the corporate sector
Building collaborative networks of organisations that support volunteering or which rely on volunteers to support their work
Promoting the benefits of volunteering though our Imagine the Possibilities campaign
Measuring the impact of volunteering in Victoria, including producing a State of Volunteering in Victoria report
What do you feel are the top principles of an effective volunteer program?
Sue: Effective volunteer management operates on the same principles as good HR management, including:
Volunteer job design, developing a portfolio of volunteering opportunities to accommodate volunteers’ skills, abilities, capacity etc For example:Take advantage of new technologies (virtual volunteering); For skilled or time-poor volunteers (defined projects)
Good recruitment, induction and departure policies & processes
Training, development, performance management
Communication, acknowledgement, recognition
Collaborative, positive work environment, including the relationship with paid staff,
OH&S and risk management
Conflict management, discipline
Adherence to the National standards, which set-out best practice volunteer management
Leverage corporate social responsibility via Employee Volunteer Programs
Do you think there is enough collaboration about ‘how things can be done better’ between the diverse sectors that fall under the Community Worker umbrella?
Sue: There is generally very good collaboration and enormous good will across the community sector. We see that every day in the way our members get together to share ideas and resources and work to achieve common objectives. For example through our two special interest groups for multicultural volunteering and volunteer management, our Research Roundtable, our Imagine the Possibilities marketing campaign, the Victorian Volunteer Support Network, funding partnerships etc.
However most community sector organisations face significant and increasing demands and pressures on their time and resources, which limits their capacity and ability to collaborate. Further, many organisations currently face a significant a cut-back in funding or the loss of funding altogether, which will limit and perhaps see the end of many collaborative efforts
What are you hoping to get out of the Australian Community Workers Conference and Exhibition?
Sue: I am keen to interact with conference delegates, not only to update them on work we are doing and recent developments in volunteering, but also to hear from them about the challenges they face and how we might be able to support them. As a membership organisation it’s critical we listen to our members and support them in the development of their volunteer workforce, which plays such a critical role in service delivery across the community sector.
Sue Noble will deliver a presentation at the Australian Community Workers Conference and Exhibition 2014, to be held on 10th and 11th September in Melbourne.