Alison Lai, the CEO of Tasmania’s volunteering Peak body, Volunteering Tasmania, has echoed the sentiments in Volunteering Australia’s Federal Government pre budget submission, which calls for a number of changes to the way the Government invests in volunteer support services.

Volunteering Australia’s submission highlights a number of critical opportunities for improvement in the way that the Federal Government approaches volunteer management, in particular emphasising the critical message that volunteering does not happen for free.

“I agree that there is at times a perception that volunteering ‘just happens’,” Lai said. “But those who volunteer, or rely on volunteers, fully understand that whilst people will happily provide assistance at no cost, the process of setting up systems that make it easy, safe and effective for people to volunteer takes time and financial investment.

“Not-for-profit organisations who deliver vital community services on behalf of the Government are not flush with cash.   Ongoing Government financial investment is essential to ensure these organisations can continue to deliver volunteering programs that keep up with community expectations.”

Other key recommendations in the report include:

  • ongoing funding support for volunteer support services and volunteer management programs;
  • that funding be increased annually in line with CPI; and
  • that recognition is given to the value of place based volunteer support services.

Lai welcomed Volunteering Australia’s submission in light of current concerns that the Federal Government will decrease funding to the volunteer sector through its reshaping of its Strengthening Communities grant program.

The existing Strengthening Communities grant program provides vital funding to state and territory volunteering support services, including Volunteering Tasmania.

“The Federal Government has confirmed they will be undertaking face-to-face consultations with volunteering peak bodies in each state and territory, with the exception of Tasmania,” she said.

“We’ve been informed that these consultations will commence in just over two weeks’ time but no information has been provided regarding the key discussion points and it’s my understanding that Tasmania will be expected to travel to Melbourne to have the opportunity to meet with government representatives.

“This is very concerning and I’ll be working closely with Volunteering Australia to ensure that Tasmania’s voice is included in these critical discussions.”

The full Volunteering Australia submission can be viewed here.