In 1991 I left the public service and commenced work at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA). It was a complete change of pace for me because as a community organisation, the YWCA was dependent on volunteers to deliver many of our programs.
In all my subsequent jobs I have continued working side by side with volunteers who filled so many different roles including as Board and Committee members; workshop deliverers, auditors, drivers, fundraisers, event organisers and so on. In fact, every organisation in the community sector relies heavily on volunteers.
Volunteering as a movement really kicked off in the 1990s when it was recognised that volunteer management needed to be more professional.
Skills needed to be developed; volunteers needed to be protected in their workplace by insurance, and it was recognised that there was a great benefit in retention of volunteers.
The volunteering industry advocated long and hard for training and recognition. Today there are some wonderful initiatives in place for both management and training of volunteers with the peak body Volunteering Australia providing a range of excellent resources.
How many people volunteer?
A 2014 Australian Bureau of Statistic survey found that 5.8 Million Australians volunteered, 31% of the population.
As a nation we are incredibly generous with our time, volunteering in all types of areas like sports, the arts, emergency and community service.
Volunteering comes from the heart and feeds your soul. It is one of the glues that knits our disparate society into a community.
National Volunteers Week
In 1989 National Volunteers Week was established as a way of recognising volunteers across Australia. Organisations thank their volunteers and celebrate their contributions to the community.
During this National Volunteers Week from the 8th May to the 14th, May 2017 follow the motto, “Give Happy Live Happy”
And, thank you to all those amazing volunteers out there, you are valuable and vital to our community.