Draft Community Volunteering Strategy available for comment

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Interested residents are encouraged to consider and have their say on the City of Greater Bendigo’s Draft Community Volunteering Strategy which is now on public exhibition until April 18, 2019.

City of Greater Bendigo Health and Wellbeing Director Vicky Mason said the draft strategy aims to strengthen a culture of volunteerism in the community and was prepared following significant consultation with key stakeholders, including the Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre, local organisations and members of the community.

“The consultation was undertaken in 2018 with over 740 local residents and 70 organisations participating in the community engagement process for the strategy,” Ms Mason said. 

“Through this process we found that the volunteering landscape has changed significantly in terms of demographics and the availability and motivations of volunteers.

“Results from the community survey showed that 73.4 per cent of respondents have volunteered to help others in the community while 25.9 per cent of respondents said they volunteered to increase their skills with 52.1 per cent of 15 to 35 year old residents saying they volunteered for this reason.

“Through the community engagement process volunteers and organisations with volunteers told us they would like flexible volunteering options to meet people’s changing needs, a centralised online register for volunteers, groups and community organisations, more public education, advocacy and promotion of volunteering, accessible and affordable volunteer training and improved coordination of volunteering events and activities.

“The draft strategy responds to this changing volunteering landscape by providing a framework to guide volunteering across the community.”

The latest census statistics show that 23.1 per cent of Greater Bendigo residents aged over 15 volunteer, compared to 19.2 per cent Victoria wide.  Females volunteer more than males in Greater Bendigo – 24.5% to 21.6%.

However these figures may not represent the real level of volunteering that happens in the Greater Bendigo community as many people are volunteers and don’t realise it. 

People who help out their neighbours and friends or assist at things like school working bees are informal volunteers and are often not represented in the formal statistics.  According to the 2016 State of Volunteering in Australia Report approximately 6% nationally carry out informal volunteering, so the actual rate of volunteering in Greater Bendigo is likely to be around 30%.

“Volunteering is a crucial element of our civic culture and vital to the health and wellbeing of our community with 96 per cent of volunteers saying that volunteering “makes people happier”.  Volunteering also increases social connections and people’s sense of belonging, develops skills, and provides employment pathways.

“The strategy has helped the City to gain a better understanding of why people volunteer, what types of volunteering they prefer and the barriers that stop them from volunteering.

“We are now asking residents for feedback on the draft Strategy.  The draft Community Volunteering Strategy and information can be viewed online at http://www.bendigo.vic.gov.au/Your-Say until Thursday April 18, 2019.”

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