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Advocating for better volunteering data from the ABS

Volunteering Tasmania recently provided a submission to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on the way volunteering data is collected.

Volunteering Tasmania has been a passionate voice for full resourcing of the ABS. We know how important consistent, reliable and impartial data is to our policy and research work.

Importantly, Volunteering Tasmania notes the need for the ABS to better align its data collection with the new definition of volunteering – one that better captures new and innovative ways that people volunteer their time.

In our daily work we also see the need for better collection of data at the local, community level. This is vital to properly recognize the contribution of volunteers in regional areas of Tasmania. We also know that it is valuable when Volunteer Involving Organisations are seeking to apply for grants or to report on levels of volunteering and giving in their community.

Read our full submission here.

Volunteering in Tasmania: Community Volunteering – Understanding Motivation, Sustaining Participation, Capturing Benefits

The University of Tasmania partnered with Volunteering Tasmania, RACT, Hydro Tasmania and the City of Hobart to research volunteering participation in Tasmania.

University of Tasmania School of Medicine researchers Dr Elizabeth Shannon and Dr Sue Pearson sought to understand volunteering participation in Tasmania- including what motivates and sustains volunteers.

This study surveyed 864 individuals, capturing their demographics, health status, volunteer activity, and motivations for volunteering. It also considered the physical and psychological health benefits of volunteering.

Group discussions were then held with 30 participants from Hobart, Launceston and Burnie to explore further how volunteering participation could be sustained.

Key findings of this research included:

  • volunteers valued the benefits they gained from volunteering
  • volunteers were self- motivated and cared about the cause that they were assisting
  • Strategies for increasing participation
  • Moving volunteers into high commitment roles

A copy of the summary report can be downloaded here.

For more information about the research please contact Dr Elizabeth Shannon on e.shannon@utas.edu.au


Winners announced for the 2017 Volunteering Awards

The winners of the 2017 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards were announced at Government House, Hobart on Monday afternoon, 8 May 2017.

Celebrating and recognising Tasmania’s outstanding volunteers, the Awards are always held on the first day of National Volunteer Week, which runs until Sunday, 14 May 2017.

During the awards ceremony Alison Lai, chief executive officer of Volunteering Tasmania will pay tribute to the calibre of the winners and finalists in each category.

“We had a record number of nominations this year and the quality was very strong,” Lai said.

“It was a difficult process for the judges to shortlist to three finalists in each category, and equally difficult to select a winner.

“Each finalist demonstrated incredibly high standards of commitment and contribution to their community and we had exceptional representation from all regions of Tasmania.

“It was particularly pleasing to have finalists travel from as far away as Queenstown and King Island.

“The fact that we had winners from the north, north-west and south shows that the spirit of volunteering is alive and well right across Tasmania.”

The Premier’s Tasmanian Volunteer of the Year, chosen from the winners of the individual award categories, was awarded to Christopher Hine. Christopher is the winner of the Lifeline Emergency Services Award.


The 2017 winners and finalists are:


Lifeline Emergency Services Award
 David Gleeson – Lachlan Fire Brigade
 Christopher Hine – State Emergency Service (WINNER)
 Phillip de Bomford – Sheffield Fire Brigade

NRM South Environment, Animal Care and Conservation Award
 Mark Bartlett and Angela Knight – Bridgewater/Gagebrook Clean Up Group
 Nel Smit – Taroona Art Trail
 Dr Eric Woehler – BirdLife Tasmania (WINNER)

Anglicare Lifestyle Community Care and Health Award
 Kim Dunstan – Zeehan Gem and Mineral Fair
 Mary Gates – Royal Hobart Hospital
 Joy Searle – Mathers House Hobart (WINNER)

The Arts, Heritage and Tourism Award
 Ruby Doherty – North West theatre community
 Chris Palmer – Australian Wooden Boat Festival (WINNER)
 Dianne Powell – Queenstown Gallery Museum

The MyState Education, Science and Technology Award
 Hina and Waqas Durrani – Multicultural Council of Tasmania (WINNER)
 Amanda McMaster – YMCA Little Listeners Program
 Brother Sean McManus – CatholicCare’s Light the Way Study Club

The Sport and Recreation Award
 Tracy Badman – Devonport Gymnastics Club
 Tom Bain – Tamar Yacht Club
 Shaun Donohue – Deloraine Football Club (WINNER)

The Premier’s Volunteer of the Year
 Christopher Hine – State Emergency Service


Hydro Tasmania Excellence Award for Best Practice in Volunteer Management
 Shelley Haas – Royal Hobart Hospital (WINNER)
 Liz Lord – Australian Wooden Boat Festival
 Melody Towns – Be Hers

Tasplan Super Corporate Award for an employee volunteering program
 Hydro Tasmania (WINNER)
 Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT)
 University of Tasmania – Young Tassie Scientists

CatholicCare Volunteer Program of the Year
 King Island Meals on Wheels
 The Launceston Community Legal Centre (WINNER)
 The LCG: Older Persons Electronic Network Computer Club

Click here to read the stories behind our finalists.


Sign the petition and give your support for volunteering

Sign our petition

Volunteering is the backbone of our community. Without volunteers many of our services, events and festivals just wouldn’t happen.

In Tasmania, 4 in 5 people generously give 7.1 million hours every year to our community. This donation of time has been valued at $4.9 billion.

But volunteering doesn’t just happen on its own.  At Volunteering Tasmania we believe everyone deserves the opportunity for safe and meaningful volunteer roles. That’s why we offer services like Volunteer Connect – so people wanting to volunteer have a place to go to search for one that suits them.

We also believe in making it as easy as possible for community groups to find and keep volunteers. That’s why we offer help for thousands of community groups who are looking for volunteers. We also give free advice on how  to look after their volunteers.

We are able to do this work because the Turnbull Government funds organisations like ours to support volunteering across Australia.

Sadly, the Turnbull Government has now decided to remove the funding that helps us deliver these services. Our ability to help make volunteering happen will be weakened without this support.

We need your help to change the Turnbull Government’s mind.

Let them know that you support volunteering and Volunteering Tasmania by signing the petition below:


Update: Lobbying Federal Government for maintaining volunteer management funding

Volunteering peak bodies around Australia are continuing to lobby the Federal Government to reinstate a dedicated funding stream for volunteer management programs and services.

The urgency of the campaign continues to pick up pace following the announcement earlier this year that the volunteer management stream in the Strengthening Communities funding program would be removed when it transitions to the new Strong and Resilient Communities program.

Volunteering Tasmania chief executive, Alison Lai says she has met with a number of State and Federal representatives to advocate for the importance of this funding to Tasmanian volunteer involving organisations.

“I’ve met with a number of politicians and I’m pleased to report that there is an overwhelming support to maintain this funding across all political parties,” Alison said.

“Nationally, Volunteering Australia and the other peak bodies have also been meeting with numerous Federal representatives to raise awareness of the importance of investing in volunteer management programs and services.”

Noting that the Shadow Minister for Social Services, Louise Pratt will meet with the Department of Social Services to discuss the changes, Alison said that she remains optimistic that the funding for volunteer management could be reinstated.

“We remain hopeful that the decision to remove the dedicated funding stream for volunteer management will be reversed,” she said.

“It still remains a mystery to me why the Federal Government would decide to remove funding for volunteer management when they openly acknowledge the value of volunteers to the Australian community.

“I simply can’t stress enough how critically important it is that there is ongoing investment into supporting community organisations to develop and maintain their volunteer work-forces.

“At a time when demand for volunteers is growing, the Australian Government’s decision to remove this funding is extremely worrying and we’ll continue to lobby against the change.”

The Department of Social Services is yet to confirm when the new Strong and Resilient Communities grant program will open.

Finalists Announced for the 2017 Southern Cross News Tasmanian Volunteering Awards

Volunteering Tasmania, Southern Cross News and the Tasmanian Government are delighted to announce this years’ finalists, listed by first name alphabetically:

The Arts and Heritage Award
Chris Palmer
Dianne Powell
Ruby Doherty

The MyState Education and Science Award
Amanda McMaster
Sean McManus
Hina and Waqas Durrani (joint nomination-duplicate role)

The Anglicare Lifestyle Community Care and Health Award
Joy Searle
Kim Dunstan
Mary Gates

The Lifeline Emergency Services and Disaster Recovery Award
Christopher Hine
David Gleeson
Philip de Bomford

The NRM South Environment, Animal Care and Conservation Award
Angela Knight and Mark Bartlett (joint nomination-duplicate role)
Eric Woehler
Nel Smit

The Sport and Recreation Award
Shaun Donohue
Tom Bain
Tracy Badman

The Hydro Tasmania Excellence Award – for best practice in volunteer management
Liz Lord
Melody Towns
Shelley Haas

The Tasplan Super Corporate Award – for an employee volunteering program
Hydro Tasmania
Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania
University of Tasmania: Young Tassie Scientists (YTS)

The CatholicCare Volunteer Program of the Year Award
Launceston Community Legal Centre: Legal Literacy Volunteers Program
Meals on Wheels Tasmania Inc. : King Island Volunteer Program
The LCG: Older Persons Electronic Network (OPEN) Computer Club Volunteer Program


Volunteering Tasmania and the category judges would like to acknowledge the amazing calibre of nominations in every category and would like to thank every nominator for their efforts in nominating and of course acknowledge the amazing efforts of all the volunteers that were nominated.   The judging process has been very difficult, however all decisions are final and no further correspondence will be entered into, as stated the Terms and Conditions of entry.

Volunteering Tasmania, her Excellency the Governor of Tasmania and representatives from the Department of Premier and Cabinet look forward to meeting finalists, their guests and their nominator at Government House on May 8, 2017 for the Awards ceremony. For all those who narrowly missed out on the finalist round, every individual nominee and nominated program will be receiving a Certification of Recognition and Appreciation, our way of saying thanks on behalf of all Tasmanians.

2017 Southern Cross News Tasmanian Volunteering Awards update

On behalf of all the judges and Volunteering Tasmania, we would like to say that the nominations received this year have been outstanding, with so many incredible volunteers and amazing volunteer programs throughout Tasmania. The judges have found it extremely difficult, almost impossible, to rank one person or program ahead of another, they are all so deserving of recognition. The judging panels therefore are still deliberating and won’t be ready to publish the finalists until later next week, many apologies to those who have been looking for this information today. One easy, unanimous decision however has been that every individual nominee and nominated program will be receiving a Certification of Recognition and Appreciation, our way of saying thanks on behalf of all Tasmanians.

Senate Inquiry has positive impact on Arts Sector funding review

The Federal Government has recently announced changes to arts funding – reversing a decision to remove $104 million from the Australia Council, the Australian Government’s arts funding and advisory body.

In 2015, Volunteering Tasmania joined a number of arts and cultural groups to raise concern about the cuts to the Australia Council. Our concerns highlighted the impact on small to medium sized arts organisations – many of whom are reliant on volunteers. The multiyear funding offered by the Australia Council would have been felt most significantly by these groups.

We know that their contribution is vital to the continuation of many of our much loved festivals and events.

We hope these funding changes will continue to allow the Australia Council to focus on supporting these activities and continue to allow the social and cultural events in our community to flourish.

Volunteering Tasmania sent a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Impact of the 2014 and 2015 Commonwealth Budget decisions on the Arts, which you can read on our website here.

You can read the full article from Pro Bono Australia here: Arts Sector cautiously optimistic about new funding arrangement

National Volunteer Advocacy Campaign to ramp up

Following the Federal Government’s decision to cut funding allocated to programs and services that support volunteering, the national advocacy campaign to protect this funding is about to ramp up.

Volunteering Tasmania chief executive Alison Lai recently met with representatives of the Department of Social Services in Canberra to discuss their new Strong and Resilient Communities funding program, raising concerns regarding the abolition of the funding stream for volunteer management.

“The Department has assured me that whilst the dedicated stream of funding that previously supported volunteer management programs and services has been removed, the organisations that provide these services will remain eligible to compete for funding under the new program,” Alison said.

“Whilst this news seems positive, the reality remains that there will no longer be any direct investment from the Federal Government into supporting organisations that depend on volunteers.

“Organisations that were previously funded to provide volunteer management programs and services will now have to compete against other worthwhile community groups from a pool of funds that make no mention of the importance of volunteers in our communities.

“It is very concerning that the volunteer management stream was considered appropriate to abolish in the first place. “As a result, I have grave concerns about the ability of organisations across the nation, like Volunteering Tasmania, to secure funding to support volunteering in our communities.”

Alison said that Volunteering Tasmania will continue to advocate alongside its national counterparts, led by Volunteering Australia, to ensure that the value of investing in volunteering is not overlooked by the Federal Government.

“It remains imperative that we advocate on behalf of the importance of the programs and services that support volunteering in our State,” Alison continued.

“Volunteering in Tasmania is a multi-billion dollar industry, with the volunteer contribution estimated at $4.9 billion each year.

“With national volunteering rates declining, the Federal Government cannot overlook the importance of investing in establishing sustainable, best practice volunteer management services.

“Even a small decline in volunteering rates in Tasmania would have a significant impact, not only on the delivery of community services, but on all aspects of community life.”

The next meeting of state and territory volunteering peak bodies will be in Melbourne on Monday, 20 March.

Motion against $7.4 million Federal funding cut to volunteer support services offers hope

Volunteering Peak Bodies from around the country met in Canberra this week to lobby parliament against the abolishment of a $7.4 million funding stream for volunteer support services.

Their combined efforts resulted in a motion proposed by Senator Louise Pratt (Shadow Minister for Social Services) who called on the government to:-

  1. recognise the importance of funding volunteer management services, and
  2. retain funding for volunteer management as part of the Federal Budget.

Senator Jacquie Lambie supported the motion, stating that:

“First they go after our most vulnerable, then they go after those that help the most vulnerable. Volunteers are the foundation of our community and must be supported.”

Currently, through the Federal Government’s Strengthening Communities program, grant funding of $7.4 million is allocated to a range of organisations that deliver volunteer support systems such as volunteer matching for community organisations, best practice resources for managers of volunteers, research, advocacy and dispute resolution.

The Turnbull Government is currently redesigning the Strengthening Communities program to the Strong and Resilient Communities program, dropping the $7.4m stream for to volunteer support services.

“This loss of funding will have a wide-reaching impact on volunteering across the nation, including Tasmania” said Alison Lai, CEO of Volunteering Tasmania.

“Volunteers are everywhere and many of the services, opportunities, assistance, activities and events that Tasmanians have access to would not exist without volunteer support.”

But volunteering doesn’t just happen.

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.

Most volunteering support organisations don’t charge for their services, which are critical for many Tasmanian community groups, particularly not-for-profits that rely on them to recruit their volunteers.

The removal of this funding stream will force volunteer support organisations to apply for other grants, often competing with other worthwhile community groups for the same funding.

Volunteering Australia’s CEO, Adrienne Picone stated that the removal of these funds will “rip the heart out of local volunteer support services, these are organisations which play an important role in Australian communities by leading, enabling and building capacity to recruit and retain volunteers”.

Research conducted for the 2014 State of Volunteering Report identified that Tasmanians donate 7.1 million volunteering hours in a single year. Flinders University research estimates that 31 per cent Australians volunteer, which equates to an annual contribution to Australia of $290 billion.

“Getting this motion passed was the first stage. Volunteering Tasmania will continue to advocate strongly on behalf of all organisations that rely on volunteers until Federal funds for volunteering support services is guaranteed.” said Lai.