are 6 million volunteers in Australia in a broad range of
community, charity, sporting, arts and government organisations.
Their contributions constitute essential social
infrastructure without which Australian society cannot
As our population ages, a growing number of
Australians will be looking for volunteering options through
which to make connections with others, form relationships, share
skills and wisdom, and make practical contributions in their
areas of special interest.
However, volunteers face many challenges. Risk management and
legal pressures have formalised volunteering in recent years,
producing tight role descriptions and strict terms of engagement
which have made some volunteer roles less attractive.
In many cases, these roles reproduce the authority structures of
The emergence of 'volunteer management' as a specialist
management function has tended to de-personalise the way
voluntary contributions are made in society. There has been a
tendency to slot volunteers into pre-determined roles within
organizations, rather than enable volunteers to make voluntary
contributions in unique and personalized ways.
In turn, volunteers have not had processes though
which they can act on unsatisfactory volunteering
experiences or respond to unsatisfactory relationships with
Governments have unwisely included
volunteering as a condition for receipt of certain welfare
benefits, with adverse consequences for established volunteers
and organisations that engage them. People cannot be forced to
volunteer if their heart is not in it.
For these reasons, Australia needs a
volunteers' union to represent the interests of volunteers and
to speak on their behalf in the public arena.
CLICK HERE to read A
Voice for Volunteers by Fuzzy Trojan. Fuzzy lives in Adelaide and
is a "Golden Guru" with