In recognition of National Volunteer Week in May the Skills and Jobs Centre held an ‘Insights into Volunteering’ industry panel where participants heard from 3 local organisations in the volunteering sector – Volunteering Geelong, Diversitat and Karingal/St. Laurence. They discussed their organisations, types of volunteering, what they look for in a volunteer and the process to become one. Here is a brief rundown of the key points mentioned during the session.
Volunteering Geelong is the peak body for volunteering in the Geelong region covering City of Greater Geelong, Golden Plains, Surf Coast and the Colac Otway Shires with over 400 organisations registered with them. They have successfully matched over 5,000 volunteers to relevant organisations, as Jason Doherty the Acting Manager light-heartedly called it, “Volunteer Dating”. They will assist a potential volunteer by matching them with a suitable organisation that would benefit from the volunteers time, skills, abilities or interests and provide them both with all the information and support needed during their volunteering commitment. Right now is a great time to get in contact with Volunteering Geelong with over 450 current vacancies for volunteers listed on their website.
People can volunteer their time anywhere from:
- Children & Youth
- Disability Services
- Emergency Services
- Ethnic Community
- Human Rights
- Seniors/Aged Care
In 2012 Volunteering Geelong also introduced ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’, a program designed for people who are unable to commit to regular volunteering. ‘Bite-Size Volunteering’ offers flexible or project based volunteering where you work on a short term project at times and days that suit you and the organisation.
As long as you meet the minimum age requirement of 15 and pass required Police checks then there is no limit what you can do and how old you can be as a volunteer, depending on the need. You can even volunteer to help volunteers!
Diversitat is a not-for-profit organisation and charity also known as Geelong Ethnic Communities Council and they offer services in refugee/migrant settlement, community development, youth services, aged support, training as well as various arts and events. Diversitat also manage The Pulse radio, Wholefoods café, The Oppe Shoppe, Diversitat Training and run events such as The Pako Festa.
According to Monica Baulch from Diversitat, they currently have 600 volunteers registered with them and approximately 1600 clients but there is always a need for more volunteers and there are many ways in which you can help. Often a volunteer is needed to provide a link to the community for refugees and migrants with programs such as the Orientation Program where volunteers assist with basic skills like using public transport or their ‘Homework Club’ where volunteers help children with their school readers. A volunteer can also assist with home tutoring, the 12 week ‘Driver Practice Program’, the ‘Housing Support Program’ or even with netball, soccer, yoga and other sports.
Monica stated the process for becoming a volunteer with Diversitat takes between 6 to 8 weeks and includes a satisfactory police check, an interview, reference checks and cultural awareness training. To be successful a volunteer will need to be passionate about making a difference, be able to share their personal skills and ways they can help, be empathetic, have no prejudices and be able to build relationships through a 12 month commitment.
Diversitat will see the arrival of 200 – 300 new refugee clients in the upcoming months so if you think this could be a perfect fit for you then I highly recommend you give them a call or attend their next information session in July.
(KSL) Karingal / St. Laurence
Karingal and St. Laurence have recently merged after being 2 separate entities to become KSL, a not-for-profit organisation which provides many support services in disability, aged care, mental health and related services and training. They are located through-out Victoria, Queensland and South Australia providing support for people to engage in the community.
Maddie Kirwan from KSL stated that some of the important ways that you can volunteer with them is with their “buddy system” which involves spending time with their clients via shared interests. This could include simply going to the park or the movies or the art gallery or just any activity you both enjoy, KSL also accept volunteers in their ‘Do Care’ Program in their Aged Care section where people are asked to volunteer on a monthly basis. To be successful in becoming a volunteer for KSL you must possess a passion for assisting clients achieve their individual goals, must show empathy, reliability, understanding, care and be flexible to client needs. Volunteers are expected to commit at least 2 hours per week for a 12 month period to provide consistency in building relationships with their clients.
KSL’s process for becoming one of their volunteers is through making an enquiry, an interview and then subsequent application where you will be required to undergo a ‘Police Check’ and obtain a ‘Working With Children Check’. KSL will provide various training elements and ongoing support to all their volunteers to ensure the best quality support possible.
Why should you volunteer?
The benefits of volunteering can be endless in not only the satisfaction of helping others in need, improving your own mental and physical health but also in developing avenues to employment. Studies show some of these benefits include;
- gaining new skills and knowledge
- possible pathways to employment
- networking and building relationships
- providing career/work experience
- enjoying a sense of achievement and fulfilment
- personal development and improving self-confidence
- enhancing social skills and work skills
- enjoying better physical and mental health
- connecting to and better understanding your community
- bringing meaning and purpose to your life
If you feel like you would like to get involved as a volunteer or believe you have something to offer, then I encourage you to get in contact with any of these organisations or speak with the friendly staff at The Skills and Jobs Centre who can guide you in the right direction.
Quote – “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” – Barack Obama
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