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Rockhampton Region leads the way in disaster volunteer management

Published on 22 March 2021

Volunteer organisations and emergency agencies came together recently as part of a ground-breaking approach to disaster volunteer management in our Region.

The breakfast and networking event — which was hosted by Rockhampton Regional Council, Volunteering Queensland and the Rockhampton State Emergency Services Unit — provided an opportunity for Volunteer Organisations Active in Disasters (VOAD) from across the Region to meet and discuss their role in an emergency.

Chair of the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) Mayor Tony Williams said the VOAD initiative is a fantastic way to build our community disaster response.

“We talk often at Council about how important it is to be prepared for a disaster – whether that’s in our own homes or at a community level through the LDMG,” said Mayor Williams.

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New national resource hub for volunteer managers

Volunteering Australia has launched an online Volunteering Resource Hub to help anyone who helps manage, lead or coordinate Australia’s almost six million volunteers. The Volunteering Resource Hub is an initiative of Volunteering Australia, funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. It brings together useful, evidence-based and current best practice resources to support effective volunteer management across Australia.

This Resource Hub is coming at a critical time, as the volunteering sector is still struggling with the impact of COVID-19.i Volunteering Australia’s ‘Re-engaging Volunteers and COVID-19’ research shows that nearly three quarters (72%) of volunteer programs are not fully operational.ii Out of the 600 respondents to this survey, over half (56%) said their organisations needed more volunteers, with four out of ten (41%) finding it difficult to re-engage or recruit volunteers.

Volunteering Australia CEO, Mark Pearce, said it was evident that volunteering needs extra support if it is to be reinvigorated in the wake of COVID-19. “Volunteers are needed more than ever to ensure economic recovery and social stability. Although volunteering is time freely given, enabling volunteering is not free. Volunteers need managers to induct, train, lead, guide, recognise and support them to continue their invaluable contribution to Australian communities. This Resource Hub will help volunteer leaders carry out this vital work.”

The Resource Hub includes over 350 relevant, useful and accessible resources including policies, procedures, tools, videos, templates, guides, research and factsheets. These resources will help volunteer managers, experienced or new, embrace the National Standards of Volunteer Involvement in their everyday practice. The standards, recognised as best practice in Australia, are designed to help benchmark practice; better attract, manage, recognise and retain volunteers; manage risk and safety; and improve the overall volunteer experience.

A working group of representatives from across the volunteering sector in Australia helped guide the Resource Hub’s design, and over 20 volunteer management professionals reviewed, checked and tested its design, functionality and usability. This Resource Hub has been designed for the sector by the sector.

The resources cover topics such as volunteer support, development and recognition. Resources on topics relevant to the current environment volunteering is facing are also included – topics such as re-engaging volunteers during COVID-19, managing the mental health and wellbeing of volunteers and recruiting younger volunteers. The ‘Re-engaging Volunteers and COVID-19’ research showed that these are some of the barriers that volunteer involving organisations face in re-invigorating the sector.

“It is vital for all of us to work together, share our collective knowledge and re-imagine how we can better support Australia’s diverse, dedicated and invaluable volunteers. This Resource Hub will be one step towards helping achieve that,” Mr Pearce said.

The Volunteering Resource Hub can be accessed at www.volunteeringhub.org.au.

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National

 Volunteering Australia
 (02) 6251 4060

Queensland

Ala Pietranik
 Volunteering Queensland
 (07) 3002 7600