The following specialised volunteering organisations focus on specific types of volunteering or target certain groups in the community.
Volunteering for specialist or target groups
International Students and volunteering
Volunteering can help international students to make the most of living and studying in Victoria. Through volunteering, international students can:
- develop employability skills
- make new friends and contacts
- improve their English language skills
- get to know Australia
- get involved in the community and help others.
For organisations that rely on volunteers, international students bring commitment, a fresh perspective and valuable cultural and language skills. Many organisations find that increasing the flexibility of their volunteer program, reducing time commitments, and using streamlined or online recruitment processes assist them to engage with international students.
Volunteering in an Emergency
Volunteering Victoria’s HelpOUT emergency volunteering service was initiated in July 2015, with time-limited pilot funding through the Commonwealth government’s Natural Disaster Resilience Grants Scheme, and went live in February 2016. The initiative aimed to improve the coordination and management of spontaneous emergency volunteers through a recruitment, coordination and management service.
HelpOUT, including the Managers of Spontaneous Emergency Volunteers (MSEV) program, aimed to complement and support the vital role of state and local government in emergency management by capturing and better managing spontaneous volunteer offers, freeing up other resources in the immediate aftermath of an emergency.
Volunteering Victoria has been working with the Victorian Government and other stakeholders to review the successes and lessons learned from the HelpOUT service, and to inform a longer term, sustainable model for the coordination and management of spontaneous emergency volunteers.
How you can help in an emergency: The best thing to do is get involved with a local volunteer-based organisation well before a disaster strikes. That way you will already have all the necessary background checks and a membership with the volunteering group.
Local councils often rely on established volunteer-based organisations that can support and coordinate their own volunteers for relief and recovery efforts.
Become an emergency services volunteer: Victoria’s emergency services organisations – such as the CFA, MFB, Police, Red Cross and SES – deploy highly trained and skilled staff and volunteers to respond to immediate emergencies, e.g. putting out fires and rescuing people.
If you are interested in volunteering with the emergency services, don’t wait for an emergency. Join now so you can learn new skills before disasters occur:
Supporting your friends and family: Gather My Crew connects people in emergency situations – bushfires, floods, storms – to their community of friends and family in an easy and coordinated way so they can ask for, and receive, the practical support they actually need. Meals, transport, help with the kids, help with pets and more.
More information: There are additional resources available to assist organisations in planning for spontaneous volunteers during emergencies:
- AIDR Handbook 12: Communities responding to disasters – planning for spontaneous volunteers
- National spontaneous volunteer strategy
Useful links and resources:
- For weather information, visit the Bureau of Meteorology
- For emergency management alerts and information, visit Emergency Management Victoria
- Cleaning up after a disaster
- National guidelines for managing donated goods
- Final Volunteering Victoria report HelpOUT and MSEV – doc pdf
- Volunteer stories (link to stories above)
Volunteering Victoria acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the Land , and we pay our respect to them, their culture and their Elders past and present . Victoria’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is rich and diverse and to strengthen our relationship and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people we developed this page to support the engagement and updates of activities within Aboriginal communities. Volunteering Victoria hope this makes a small contribution towards the prosperity and vibrancy of Aboriginal people within this State.
Image courtesy of William Powell
To respond to the needs of Indigenous volunteers, Volunteering Victoria has collected information about volunteering opportunities and resources within the Aboriginal communities.
Research suggests that members of the multicultural communities have lower rates of volunteering than other segments of the community. But we know this is not the true picture of volunteering in these communities, which are often highly engaged and supportive communities. Volunteering Victoria sees volunteering as ‘active citizenship’ and believes that increasing volunteering by members of the Aboriginal community can facilitate social inclusion, and also enhance service delivery to this community
To support, promote and ensure volunteering in Victoria’s Aboriginal Communities, Volunteering Victoria will:
- Work with both the volunteering and the Aboriginal community to increase the level of volunteering across the broader community
- Promote engagement
- Share cultural understandings of what it means to volunteer
- Work with our members and peak bodies who represent the variety of Aboriginal communities to develop programs, policy and support to enable cross cultural volunteering.
- Share learnings and best practice of volunteering in Aboriginal communities to broader volunteering communities
- Work with volunteer-involving-organisations to develop capacity and capability to create opportunity for Aboriginal volunteers, including how to manage and develop their talents
Indigenous Volunteer Involving Organisations
Click on the links below to find out more about volunteering with these organisations.
o Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES) was established due to the tireless work of the late Aunty Iris Lovett Gardiner and other elders both past and present. They were concerned that elders were dying in mainstream nursing homes without any Aboriginal cultural practices being observed.
o Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) provide access to skilled volunteers and resources in areas where education, health care and employment opportunities are often limited.
o Victoria’s Aboriginal Education Association Inc is a state-wide organisation with a regional structure based on traditional networks. Within each region are 32 of Local Aboriginal Education Consultative Groups across the state of Victoria. The Secretariat is based in Northcote and works to advice and direct the VAEAI’s Representative Council. Victoria’s Aboriginal Education Association Inc. main function is providing advice on Koorie education issues, monitoring education trends and advocating for the needs of the community.
Volunteering Opportunities with Indigenous Organisations
If you are interested in volunteering with an indigenous organisations the below resources can help connect you with opportunities.
- Law Institute Victoria of Victoria provides a list of indigenous organisations on their website here.
- Pro Bono Australiahave a database of opportunities on their website. You can see the latest national opportunities for volunteering with indigenous organisations here.
- Like Pro Bono Australia, Go Volunteer lists volunteer opportunities around Australia. You can see current opportunities in indigenous organisations here.
- Australian Volunteers Program is an initiative of the Australian Government providing opportunities to contribute to aid objectives through volunteering.
- Leadership Victoria – Indigenous Leadership Network exists to inspire, develop and connect exceptional leaders who are driven by personal development and professional excellence and share their passion for creating a better world. They have developed an Indigenous Leadership Network to foster emerging leaders in the Indigenous community.
- Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership fosters leadership, providing exceptional people with the support they need to achieve their vision for their communities. The Fellowship invests in recognised leaders and provides opportunities to emerging leaders within Victoria’s Indigenous communities. The value of the investment in building Indigenous leadership is to improve the economic as well as the social and emotional wellbeing of communities.
Festive Season Volunteering
Considerations when volunteering during the festive season
For many community groups and organisations, the festive season is the busiest time of the year. Volunteering roles are in high demand and positions fill quickly.
Whilst most organisations are delighted to have additional assistance over the festive season, they are also open, and therefore welcome volunteers, 365 days of the year. Consider other periods during which you could volunteer.
In line with the National Standards of Volunteering Involvement, Volunteering Victoria supports best practice management for all volunteers. This includes the process of adequate support and training for volunteers and appropriate inductions. Not all volunteer involved organisations have large budgets to support training and induction for new volunteers. The number of volunteers in which they can safely engage at any one period restricts them and therefore opportunities may not be available during the period of time that you may wish to support them.
Lack of resources or limited budgets may prevent organisations expanding programs over the festive season. A volunteer environment is still a workplace that requires adherence of responsibilities by both the volunteer and the organisation. Keeping everyone safe is a priority and having appropriate levels of safety and support is paramount.
Volunteering is not free. There is a strong focus of ‘time willing given without financial gain’, within the definition of volunteering, however the support required to set up an activity including personal protective equipment, police checks, insurances and staff to supervise activities, is a real cost for any organisation. Some organisations have limited capacity in which they can operate and therefore are unable to support additional activities during the festive season.
Paid team members may have annual leave over the festive season; therefore, the organisation is unable to provide appropriate levels of support to volunteers, who often have little training due to the limited duration of the activity.
When considering where you would like to volunteer, think about the skills that you have to offer. This reduces the amount of support that you may require and may make you an attractive candidate for a volunteer role. Think about the task that you wish to involve yourself within, the amount of time that you have to offer and what motivates you to help. Sometimes, an organisation may not necessarily need additional hands on support. If there are no volunteer roles available, consider providing a monetary donation. This can be a practical and effective way to still support a cause or program.
The benefits of volunteering during the festive season
- People have the availability to volunteer, discover community groups and organisations.
- Volunteers can provide new ideas and support new ways of working.
- Volunteers understand and learn about the organisations mission and goals, becoming walking advocates for programs.
- Volunteering over the festive season has the potential to encourage longer-term volunteering.
- Skilled volunteers can make a contribution whilst juggling other commitments.
- Volunteers can support community groups and organisation during peak times.
- Community engagement is a valuable platform for active citizenship. Volunteering is a proven pathway to skills enhancement and can have a profound impact upon an individual’s wellbeing.
- There is a growing demand for volunteering roles, which helps to fulfil the demand over peak periods.
Volunteering, no matter what the duration, connects people to community and supports the Australian way of life. If you are not able to find a suitable role this festive season, be sure to start your search earlier next year. Once you have volunteered, you are likely to return for a fix of that fabulous feel-good-feeling!