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Adjournment: Volunteer support services

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
7 April 2022

My adjournment matter is for the Treasurer, and the action I seek is that he commits to additional funding for weVolunteer and for volunteer support services in next month’s budget.

Volunteers are an essential but often underappreciated part of our community. Volunteering is a way to strengthen community connections, has enormous health and wellbeing benefits for all involved, and is the foundation of many of our community services and organisations.

In the last couple of years, volunteers have been crucial in times of crisis, whether it’s the many who stepped up to help test and vaccinate our community, or those who pitched in with bushfire clean-up and recovery in the state’s east after the devastating bushfires in the summer of 2020.

But like so many other sectors, volunteering has suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. People whose volunteering was interrupted by stay-at-home orders have not returned. Those who have picked up their volunteering once again have been hit with higher workloads. And the many industries and organisations that rely on a volunteer workforce are struggling.

Volunteers and the organisations that support them are in need of extra support from the government to help volunteering once again thrive in Victoria.

In particular, Victoria needs a well-resourced and coordinated spontaneous volunteer engagement strategy. Spontaneous volunteers are those who are motivated to help out in the aftermath of a disaster or emergency and want to assist with relief and recovery efforts. As per its nature, it often occurs in surges, and requires a specific coordination program to help communicate with, recruit and manage volunteers and ensure their safety.

Much of this coordination work is currently delivered by weVolunteer, a community recovery volunteering program within Volunteering Victoria funded through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. weVolunteer provides a way for people to volunteer when they are needed urgently, and gives organisations access to a pool of ready volunteers.

While weVolunteer have funding until 30 June 2022, there is no ongoing funding allocated from 1 July. Extending this funding would improve spontaneous volunteer coordination and allow weVolunteer to expand services, and help address emerging needs in volunteer coordination and support.

Additional funding is also needed for Victoria’s state volunteer support services, which provide crucial support and advice to volunteer organisations and volunteers. These services have developed strong local connections and partnerships in their communities, and are uniquely positioned to provide local, place-based volunteering support to volunteers and organisations.

They are also uniquely placed to help with the recovery and revitalisation of local volunteering communities post COVID.

However, many are under-resourced and overstretched, and in need of extra funding support to help them develop sustainable service delivery models.

I ask the Treasurer to commit to additional funding for weVolunteer and for volunteer support services in next month’s budget.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
7 April 2022
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