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So far Gwen Harper has created 49 blog entries.

Feedback from Tassie’s volunteering sector highlights concerns for future

Over the past few weeks, the team at Volunteering Tasmania has been travelling around the island listening to many of you share your views on the issues facing Tasmanian volunteers and the organisations that involve them.

We have heard from people living in all corners of the State, and there are two things that you all have in common.

The first thing is that you all have a contagious passion for volunteering, and we thank you for sharing that with us.

The second common message was that you’re concerned about the future of volunteering on our island.

These concerns are based on your attempts to maintain volunteer numbers in the face of increasing compliance and regulation, transient populations and increasingly time-poor community members.

We heard you loud and clear and over the next few weeks we will take your concerns and use them to inform our budget priority submission for the Tasmanian Government.

This submission will call upon the government to prioritise funding in their 2018-19 State Budget for initiatives that will safeguard volunteering into the future.

We will be asking for the prioritisation of initiatives that provide immediate impact to relieve the pressures on volunteers and the organisations that involve them.

We will also be requesting investment into long-term strategies that will assist us to prepare for forecasted changes in the number of volunteers across the island.

I look forward to sharing our finalised submission with you in the December edition of eNews.

For all the volunteers.
Alison Lai

CEO Volunteering Tasmania

Feedback from Tassie’s volunteering sector highlights concerns for future 2017-11-14T15:25:32+00:00

Nominations are now open for the Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards 2018!

Today, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, AC, Governor of Tasmania launched the 2018 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards.

This awards program is entering its third year, and is an initiative of Volunteering Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government.

These awards aim to recognise and reward the contribution of those who exhibit excellence in volunteering, and are the only state-wide volunteering recognition program.

In an independent study researched by the Institute of Project Management, Tasmanians volunteer 7.1 million hours a year, with the value of volunteering to the Tasmanian community being $4.9 billion annually.

“Volunteers are in every community in Tasmania. They represent the third biggest workforce in our State, yet too often their impact goes unseen”, said Alison Lai, CEO of Volunteering Tasmania.

“This Awards program is vitally important for highlighting and officially recognising the amazing variety and number of volunteers we have in Tasmania,” said Lai.

In a true reflection of this, the Awards program has a wide range of voting categories, including: tourism, arts, and heritage; sport and recreation; emergency volunteering; community care; education and science; animal care and conservation; as well as Volunteer Manager of the Year and Corporate Volunteer Program of the Year.

“The most popular category last year was the Volunteer Program of the Year – it was heart-warming to read so many amazing stories of selfless Tasmanians dedicating so much time to giving back to our community, without expecting payment”, said Lai.

Nominations are open here, and close on 5pm, March 2, 2018.

Awards will be presented at the beginning of National Volunteer Week, 21 May 2018; in a formal ceremony at Government House.

Nominate a deserving Tasmanian today!

Nominations are now open for the Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards 2018! 2017-11-06T13:22:31+00:00

Important Announcement: Volunteering Tasmania Organisational Changes

Supporters of Volunteering Tasmania are aware that our organisation has been transitioning through challenges and change over the past 12 months, which included the closure of the Burnie regional office last year.

These challenges continue to impact Volunteering Tasmania, and the recent announcement from the Australian Government regarding their Strong and Resilient Communities funding has forced us to once again reassess how we deliver volunteer support services across the State.

The Australian Government’s decision to retain dedicated funding for volunteer support services is welcomed. However, with funding to remain fixed at the current level for the next 3.5 years there regrettably won’t be an opportunity for Volunteering Tasmania to request additional funding to cover the rising costs of delivering these services.

Consequently, Volunteering Tasmania will be implementing changes to its structure and operations, which will include the closure of our Launceston office from Monday, 4 September 2017.

This decision has been very difficult, particularly as it will see Volunteering Tasmania operate without a Launceston office for the first time since we were established in 1993.

There will also be changes to roles within the Volunteering Tasmania team as we seek to find ways to work more efficiently.

Change is always difficult, and we acknowledge the significant contribution of our paid staff and volunteers and we thank them for their dedication and professionalism during this time.

As we look to the future, there will be only be a minor impact to our services.

As the peak body for volunteering we will continue to deliver our programs and services including our bi-monthly Network meetings, which are held in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie. There will be no impact to the delivery of our ‘Volunteer Connect’ online volunteer vacancy database and our training, development and consultation services, which will continue to be delivered state-wide.

The closure of the Launceston office will temporarily impact the delivery of our face-to-face volunteer referral services, but our services in Hobart, Sorell and Burnie remain unaffected.

Volunteering Tasmania remains fiercely committed to delivering programs and services across the island to support volunteers and the organisations that involve them.

In doing so, we will continue to advocate strongly for increased support and recognition of the contribution volunteers make to the sustainability and liveability of all communities across Tasmania.


Alison Lai and Rachel Johnson
Chief Executive Officer and Chair
Volunteering Tasmania

Important Announcement: Volunteering Tasmania Organisational Changes 2017-09-25T11:00:44+00:00

Notice of Annual General Meeting 2017

Notice is given that Volunteering Tasmania’s Annual General Meeting for 2017 will be held at the Volunteering Tasmania state office, 95-97 Campbell Street Hobart on Wednesday 27th September at 5.30pm.

Everyone is welcome.  If you wish attend our Annual General Meeting, please click RSVP to send us an email to say that you will be attending. RSVPs are required by 20 September 2017.  Drinks and nibbles will be provided.

If you are a Volunteering Tasmania member and are unable to attend but would like to send someone to represent you at this meeting, please return this proxy form by 20th September to admin@volunteeringtas.org.au or 95-97 Campbell Street, Hobart, TAS, 7000.

With kind regards

Alison Lai
Public Officer


Notice of Annual General Meeting 2017 2017-08-25T11:47:29+00:00

Volunteering and the next steps in community aged care reform

Volunteering Tasmania welcomes the Federal Government’s community consultation around the next stages of community aged care reform.

The Federal Government is moving towards a more consumer-driven, market-based and nationally consistent aged care system.   Important reforms in home care were introduced in February 2017 to give senior citizens more choice in selecting a home care provider. There is now also a nationally consistent process for assigning home care packages.

Before making decisions on future reform, the Federal Government asked to hear further from the sector on what we believe is the best way forward.

Volunteering Tasmania consistently advocates for better consideration of the volunteer workforce in aged care, as volunteers are at the heart of services in this industry.

In our submission to this consultation we highlighted how important it is for volunteer programs – like community transport, meals and domestic assistance – to be sustainable.

We will keep you updated on how this feedback is incorporated into the consultation findings.

You can read more about the consultation here.


Volunteering and the next steps in community aged care reform 2017-09-25T11:00:45+00:00

A victory for volunteering.. but there’s still work to be done

The volunteering sector breathed a sigh of relief across Australia last month when the Australian Government reversed their decision to cut funding dedicated to volunteer support programs and services.

The change of heart, a result of extensive lobbying by the volunteering sector, will ensure funding for programs and services supporting volunteering remains available for the next 3.5 years.

This includes the programs and services delivered by Volunteering Tasmania.

This news is viewed as a victory for the volunteering sector, not only because it saves the only funding stream dedicated to volunteer support programs and services, but because the advocacy campaign successfully showcased how important volunteering is to communities across our nation.

It is indeed a victory.

But for anyone who has worked in a community organisation that relies on government funding it’s a victory that comes a sense of de-ja-vu in the form of three words; ‘non-ongoing funding’.

What this means, is despite the confirmation that the funding has been reinstated, it is only a reprieve.

The good news has come with a firm directive from the Australian Government that the funding will not be ongoing and any organisations receiving it should not expect the support to continue beyond 2021.

That is, organisations like Volunteering Tasmania are under strict instructions to find other funding streams for their volunteering support programs because the Australian Government doesn’t believe this is something they should be funding moving forward.

This means that in 2021, the volunteering sector will have to unite to once again to compel the Australian Government to change their mind.

Whilst the diversification of funding streams is a key result area in the strategic plans of community organisations across the nation, the Australian Government’s stance poses an important question.

Should we expect the Australian Government to prioritise investment into developing and sustaining a healthy volunteering sector?

I empathise that the Australian Government does not have a bottomless bucket of funding which allows them to commit long-term funding to every worthy cause.

However, would the community expect taxpayer money to be invested into services that help Australians find volunteering roles, or programs that help organisations that involve volunteers to find them and look after them?

I believe this is a fair expectation, and not just because I lead an organisation dedicated to those aims.

I believe it’s a fair expectation because the figures support it.

With 4 in 5 Tasmanians generously giving over 7 million volunteer hours to the tune of $4.9 billion every year, if volunteering was identified formally as an ‘industry’ I suspect we would see more money thrown at it to ensure its sustainability.

I believe it’s a fair expectation because the liveability of our communities depends on volunteers.

Not just in the delivery of our community health services but during natural disasters, for our iconic festivals and events, to maintain our wilderness tracks and trails and to keep us physically active and healthy.

These examples are just touching the surface, with volunteers contributing an estimated $290 billion annually across the nation.

The Australian Government could never afford to replace our volunteers with paid-workers.

But most importantly, I also believe it’s a fair expectation that the Australian Government invest in nurturing volunteerism because volunteers are not an entitlement.

We should never take them for granted and we should never assume that they will always be there.

With more organisations seeking volunteer support, and an increase in organisations experiencing volunteer shortages, volunteers are becoming a scarce commodity in some regions.

This is an issue that is happening here on our island and right across Australia.

So if we know that volunteers are keeping our communities alive and that the Australian Government could never afford to replace them with paid workers, then surely it’s in their interest to invest in programs and services that nurture volunteerism.

Because to do otherwise increases the risk of community organisations having no other option than to approach the Government for financial assistance to hire paid workers to replace their volunteers because they don’t have enough.

These requests are already happening, and I am sure these organisations, and the people in the communities they support, would also think it’s a fair expectation that the Australian Government set some funding aside aimed at keeping volunteering alive.

Because a future that doesn’t prioritise investment into developing innovative ways to get more Australians to volunteer, or help organisations to involve volunteers, is a future with few volunteers.

And a future with few volunteers, is one with less junior sport, the closure of regional museums, no-one available to take our older Tasmanians to their doctors’ appointments, fewer friendly faces welcoming our cruise-ships, and less people to help the homeless or those in crisis.

It’s not a future I want to ponder, but unless we can convince the Australian Government to put funding for volunteering towards the top of their long-term priority list, and not on the bottom, it’s one that we have to bravely accept.

But I’m not ready to accept it yet and despite those three words ‘non-ongoing funding’, I am feeling optimistic.

It’s the mission of Volunteering Tasmania to create an environment that promotes and sustains effective volunteerism, and I now have 3.5 years up my sleeve to help persuade them that this priority should also be one of theirs.

And knowing that our island is built on the generosity of volunteers, I look forward to the challenge.

Alison Lai

CEO Volunteering Tasmania

A victory for volunteering.. but there’s still work to be done 2017-09-25T11:00:45+00:00

Training Partnership offers huge discounts on Project Management course

We are delighted to announce that we have been successful once more in securing funding through Skills Tasmania’s Skills fund, through a partnership with Institute of Project Management (RTO 60154).

You are invited to express an interest in the upcoming Project Management Foundations Workshop, a one-day, practical and hands-on workshop that introduces best-practice principles of project management in the context of the project life-cycle: from initiation through planning, delivery and close.

About the training:

Within the context of the project life-cycle you will gain a common understanding of project terminology; roles and responsibilities; what tools to use, and when and where to find them; practical tips and takeaways.

This workshop is ideal for those new or with limited experience in project management, and to existing members of project teams seeking to build their practical knowledge and skills in project management.

This program introduces the project management knowledge areas of:

  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resource management
  • Stakeholder management
  • Communication management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management
  • Change management

This program is mapped to a nationally recognised unit of training. Participants who successfully complete the assessment component of this course will receive a Statement of Attainment for the unit BSBWOR203 Work Effectively with Others.

Training Cost:

This course usually runs at $350 per person, but we are thrilled to be able to offer it for the excellent price of $110 per person (GST inclusive)!

Extra Discount!  If you are a Member of Volunteering Tasmania, you will get an additional 20% discount, making this project management course just $88!  (GST inclusive).  Click here to find out more about membership. Not sure if you are a member? Send us a quick email and we’ll update you.

Places are strictly limited, so we encourage you to register your interest now (details below) to avoid disappointment.

When and Where:

HOBART:  Tuesday 26 September 2017

LAUNCESTON: Thursday 28 September 2017

Eligibility & Enquiries:  Funded places are available to anyone who is employed for a minimum 15 hours per week, either part-time, full-time or casual. This can be from more than one employer. Any questions on eligibility, please call Ian at IPM on 1300 988 733 or email ian@ipm.edu.au

Register your Interest:   

Calls for Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open, with the EIO closing on 1 September 2017.

Click here to send an email and register your interest, please complete the details requested in the email.


With limited places available, Volunteering Tasmania and IPM will confirm all successful bookings via email by 5pm on Friday 8 September.

Please note in the instance of over-subscription, Members of Volunteering Tasmania will be given priority, followed by For-Purpose organisations, then those employed in the commercial/for-profit sector.

Training Partnership offers huge discounts on Project Management course 2017-09-25T11:00:46+00:00

Nationwide efforts to benchmark the value of volunteering

UPDATE:  Survey extended until Friday 18 August!

Volunteering Australia and the Institute of Project Management are currently surveying the value of volunteering in Australia.

The aim of the research is to show the social and economic contribution of the volunteering industry, so that we have evidence-based data to help us advocate strongly for the volunteering sector.

Volunteering Australia aims to release a comprehensive report using Survey data, that will quantify the social and economic contributions that Volunteering Support Services make to society, provide an evidence-base for future resource allocation, and deliver a benchmark to measure future performance.

Volunteering Tasmania is supporting Volunteering Australia’s research efforts, and would like to ask all supporters to take a few minutes to complete the appropriate survey.

The value of the data lies in a high response rate, and we urge all Volunteer Involving Organisations and Volunteers to respond.  Please complete the applicable surveys below, and distribute to your networks, as your responses will help improve practice, inform development work, and represent the interests of the sector.

What does the term Volunteer Support Service (VSS) mean?

Please note that the Volunteering Australia survey will ask you some questions about Volunteer Support Services (VSS).  In Tasmania, Volunteering Tasmania is your Volunteer Support Service (VSS). We help organisations recruit volunteers, and help community members find a volunteer role.

As you go through the survey remember that Volunteering Tasmania is your Volunteer Support Service (VSS) – your feedback should show your feelings about our service.

Does the survey take long? When do I need to finish it by?

The survey should only take you a few minutes to complete. The deadline is 11 August 2017

Will Volunteering Tasmania see the feedback I give about your services?

All feedback given is private and will not be shared.


Click here if you are a volunteer, to fill out the Volunteer Census

Click here if you work for a Volunteer Involving Organisation, to do the VIO Census.

Click here to go to the VSS (Volunteering Tasmania) Census

Nationwide efforts to benchmark the value of volunteering 2017-08-16T13:01:45+00:00

Volunteering Tasmania welcomes findings into Australia’s Aged Care Workforce

In 2016 Volunteering Tasmania gave evidence at the Senate Inquiry into the Aged Care Workforce. Our submission highlighted the importance of volunteering in the aged care sector, and the valuable role that volunteers play.

We particularly raised concerns that volunteering was excluded from the Senate Committee’s Terms of Reference, when volunteers play such a critical role to the future of this workforce.

On June 20, 2017 the Senate Committee handed down its findings into the Aged Care Workforce. Volunteering Tasmania welcomes the findings, and notes two key recommendations:

  • The aged care workforce strategy task-force be composed of representatives of service providers, workforce groups, including nurses, care workers/personal care attendants, medical and allied health professionals, and others, and representatives of consumers and volunteers. Representatives of workers, care providers and consumers from regional and remote areas should also be included.
  • The aged care workforce strategy consider the role of informal carers and volunteers in the aged care sector, with particular focus on the impacts of both the introduction of consumer directed care and the projected ageing and reduction in these groups.

This is a fantastic step in acknowledging the vital contribution our volunteer workforce plays in the aged care landscape.

A copy of the committee’s report can be accessed on the committee’s website here.

Volunteering Tasmania welcomes findings into Australia’s Aged Care Workforce 2017-09-25T11:00:46+00:00

Symposium Spotlights Volunteer Safety – 27 July 2017

Mental anguish, physical harm or negative social implications are not usually the first things that spring to mind when you think about the altruistic act of volunteering.

For many that donate their time to worthy causes, volunteering is a hugely rewarding endeavour. However, in helping make someone, or something’s life better, it’s essential that the quality of the volunteer’s health is not adversely impacted.

Volunteering Tasmania, our island’s peak body for volunteering, will delve into this topic next week at the 2017 Volunteering Symposium.

Alison Lai, chief executive officer of Volunteering Tasmania says the Symposium will give volunteers, and the people that work alongside them, the opportunity to discuss these issues.

“Tasmanian’s are incredibly generous with the amount of time they give to our community, and their willingness to go above and beyond is unquestionable,” Alison said.

“Communities all across our island depend on volunteers and it’s hard to imagine a world without them. So it’s imperative that we keep volunteers safe.

“Volunteer safety comes in different forms, ranging from keeping them safe from physical dangers such as rough seas or bushfires, to helping them maintain safe and healthy relationships with those they might befriend, or provide companionship to.

“It’s also imperative that volunteers are provided with robust and reliable support systems to help them recover from experiences that may be traumatic, whether that be seeing people at their most vulnerable, or any other type of crisis event.

“We hope that attendees will leave the Symposium feeling informed and armed with new insights into how other organisations are addressing volunteer safety.”

With a stellar line up of expert panel membersSymposium Web Header 1, the Symposium will feature presentations from Lois Berry of North West Hospice Care, Ian Fullagar of Surf Life Saving Australia and Michael Bruhn of Sea Shepherd Tasmania.

The Symposium will also feature a light-hearted yet thought provoking debate around the statement ‘Young people don’t like volunteering’.

Alison said that she was looking forward to some of Tasmania’s well-known community members debating this current hot topic in volunteering.

“For the affirmative we will have ABC radio presenter Chris Wisbey, Peter West from the RSPCA and Anneliese Smith who is known for her work with the Migrant Resource Centre,” she said.

“They’ve got their work cut out for them, up against Emily Briffa of the successful Hamlet Social Enterprise, Kate Cashman from The Breath Between and Alex McKenzie from Mobart Mo Bros (Movember Foundation).

“It’s going to be wonderful community event, delivered by our community.”

The Symposium will be held on Thursday 27 July from 1-4pm, at the Stanley Burbury Theatre, University of Tasmania’s Hobart campus. Special rates for Volunteering Tasmania members.

More information can be found on Eventbrite, sorry no door sales.

To download the Volunteering Symposium flyer, click here.

Symposium Spotlights Volunteer Safety – 27 July 2017 2017-09-25T11:00:47+00:00