The value of volunteers
Volunteers... where would we be without them? A volunteer is defined as ‘a person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task’.
Australian volunteers’ kindness, exceptional skill sets and generosity of time to help others helps with the smooth running of countless programs in the Wimmera, across Australia and around the world.
But their value represents much more. Volunteerism is proven to save the country’s economy up to $14.6-billion in equivalent wages.
In fact, a Volunteering Australia report published on April 16, 2015, showed that helping others was the main reason volunteers donated their time, at 57 percent of the volunteer pool, closely followed by personal satisfaction at 44 percent.
Of those volunteers, the sexes were relatively equally balanced, with 38 percent being adult women, compared with 34 percent of adult males.
The largest percentage, at 44 percent, was aged between 45 and 54.
And, it might come as no surprise that the regional volunteering pool was larger than its city counterparts, at 41 and 34, respectively, or to put it in population numbers, that’s 2.5-million people giving up their time to help others in rural and regional areas.
From manning the kiosk at the footy on Saturdays to driving seniors to their appointments or assisting with their weekly shopping, helping to find animals new homes and even teaching teens how to drive – to name just a few examples – our volunteers are truly invaluable.
But, exactly like the recipients of their services, volunteers also have rights and many might not be aware exactly what they are.
Just like paid employees, volunteers have the right to work in a healthy and safe environment free from any form of discrimination.
They have the right to be adequately covered by insurance, to be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of volunteering at the organisation, and to be given accurate and truthful information about the organisation they are joining, or for which they currently volunteer.
Volunteers should not be expected to either replace a position previously held by a paid employee, or to do the work of paid employees during industrial disputes.
They are to have agreed working hours, a job description, access to the organisation’s grievance procedure and to be provided with a proper orientation and training.
Furthermore, volunteers have the right to have their personal information remain confidential, and to ask any relevant questions about the role or organisation, including whether it is a not-for-profit group and check that the purpose of the organisation matches their own values and beliefs.
On the other side of the coin, organisations also have some rights including performing background checks such as police, working with children and driving history checks, before agreeing to take on a volunteer, and to ensure the people the organisation cares for are also safe.
To our amazing band of current volunteers I say a big thank you, and for those of you reading this thinking to yourself ‘I don’t really have much to offer’ – and I know you’re out there – I say rubbish.
Whether you can spare an hour a week to help a senior while they shop, would enjoy getting out and about on a social trip, can wield a pet brush or change their water – not to mention enjoying lots of cuddles and who doesn’t love that? – are confident enough to help mentor a learner driver as they navigate the roads, can string a sentence together, or can even make a mean cup of tea, you are skilled, you are valuable, and you are needed.
From pet therapy to drivers, support group to Wimmera Social Support, newsletter to Community Visiting Scheme, we currently have a range of volunteering vacancies open.
So, if you have the desire, we have the spot and would love to hear from you.
Not only will you contribute to the amazing programs on offer in the Wimmera, but you could even make some new friends – it’s a win-win.
People wanting to find out more, or to register as a volunteer, can give us a call on 03 5382 5607. Changing lives, strengthening communities.
“If you are confident enough to help mentor a learner driver as they navigate the roads, can string a sentence together, or can even make a mean cup of tea, you are skilled, you are valuable, and you are needed”