The value of vol­un­teers

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

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”

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