About Gwen Harper

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Bush Fire Awareness – How Prepared Are You?

Most Tasmanians will have heard of ‘Black Tuesday’, 7 February 1967, which saw the most deadly bushfires that Tasmania has ever experienced. Sixty-four people died, nine hundred injured, sixty-four thousand farm animals lost and over seven thousand people homeless.

2017 marks the fifty year anniversary of that terrible day in Tasmania’s history, with the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery commemorating the event and sharing clippings, recordings, footage and memories of the people who experienced Black Tuesday. Clarence Council also have a fascinating exhibition called “What Would You Take?“.

The Tasmanian Fire Service, in conjunction with the Australian Government and Flinders University, are conducting a survey on bushfire preparation and management. They are seeking feedback on Tasmanian residents’ actions and plans in the event of future bushfires – please consider participating. More information in their flyer (download, 306KB), with the  survey link found here.

If you want to do more than just be prepared, please visit this page on our website to find out more about volunteering during and emergency, and/or as part of community recovery efforts. By signing up to EV CREW before a natural disaster, you will be proactive and a vital extra pair of hands when it’s needed most.

Stay safe.

Half-price membership offer – join and support VT!

Volunteering Tasmania is the peak body for volunteering in the state, supporting volunteers, working closely with Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs) and advocating for the volunteering industry to funders and government.

Our small team is a not-for-profit organisation which aims to represent the interests of all Tasmanians involved in volunteering.  Alongside many VIOs, we also put considerable resources into ensuring we have funding to continue representing the volunteering industry.

Part of this funding is made up of our membership fees, for which we offer a host of exclusive benefits and returns.

From 1 January 2017, memberships will be at a pro-rata (half price) rate, this reduced rate buys membership for the remaining half of the 2016-17 Financial Year, so is valid until 30 June 2017.

Benefits and application forms can be found online below:

To discuss how Membership might benefit you, or to find out more, contact the Member and Corporate Liaison Bonnie Tuttle on 6231 5550, 0439 032 499, or email BonnieT@volunteeringtas.org.au

FAREWELL AND FORWARD – Adrienne’s thoughts on the future of Volunteerism in Tasmania

In 2009 Volunteering Tasmania talked about successful volunteering as being like a ‘three legged stool’: willing volunteers, meaningful roles, and effective leadership. Today, I would add a fourth essential leg: the need for a credible, reliable and measurable evidence base.

One of the first pieces of work that VT produced during my tenure as CEO was a Positioning Paper highlighting the need to better understand volunteering in Tasmania. This paper became our first State of Volunteering Report – research letting us finally measure and understand trends in Tasmanian volunteering. Since then, VT has released two more State of Volunteering in Tasmania reports (2012 and 2014). Each sought to understand volunteering and its incredible social, cultural and economic impact in Tasmania. Despite this, I believe we really have only touched the ‘tip of the iceberg’. The volunteer effort still goes unrecorded, unmeasured and unseen.

Volunteers hide in ‘plain sight’ as they are embedded in the very fabric of our community. I never cease to be surprised by the number of people that tell me they ‘don’t have time to volunteer’, yet I inevitably find out later that they donate their time to the community in some way, just don’t identify as volunteers – in their mind they are just do what needs to be done so that they can have the kind of community they want to live in. In fact,
volunteers are Tasmania’s ‘movers, shakers and doers’. They donate 7.1 million hours each year to make our world better. That’s a lot of people showing up, stepping up and creating change.

Our evidence base shows that our volunteers are not just a ‘nice to have’ in our community. Volunteers – and the organisations in which they give time – are key economic and social contributors.

VT’s 2014 State of Volunteering Report, produced in conjunction with the national Institute of Project Management, has been an absolute game changer, making an unequivocal case for investment in volunteering. Its cost benefit analysis of volunteering showed that for every $1 invested in volunteering $4 in benefits are returned to the community. Volunteering is also one of Tasmania’s most economically valuable industries, contributing $4.9 billion to our community.

It has been two years since VT released this unarguable economic evidence for volunteering. We’ve had time to absorb its impact. It’s now time to get serious about this industry.

How? Firstly, by recognising and valuing the unpaid work that we do ourselves, our friends, families and neighbours. I believe our state-wide Volunteering Awards, now in its second year, will help bring this about. My vision is that Tasmania becomes known as the ‘giving state’ and that we never hear someone say, ‘I’m just a volunteer’ again.

But as a society, we will still need to do more. If Tasmania continues to do what it has always done, we may, if we are lucky, sustain current levels of volunteering. But if we were to heed the economic evidence and get proactive and visionary in our approach, we would see real remunerative and social returns.

If we took a strategic approach to volunteering and made it our mission to grow volunteer participation by 1% per year, we would add an average of $70.6 million per year in value to the Tasmanian economy. In today’s economic climate that is a significant return.

How do we get to this point? We need to treat volunteering with the strategic importance it deserves. We need to have a Tasmanian Strategy for Volunteering; something that provides a blueprint for where we need to go and how we will get there.  VT has advocated for this in our 2018-2018 Budget Priority Statement to the Tasmanian Government.

There are many challenges facing Tasmania’s volunteering sector – adapting to new trends in volunteering; managing our ageing population and growing corporate and skilled volunteering, to name but a few. Now is the time to plan for this future. If we want to live in a Tasmania that is socially, culturally and economically prosperous, we need to create an investment in the cornerstone of our community – volunteering. Let’s work together to encourage people to give and be part of the change they want to see in their backyard.

Adrienne Picone is the outgoing CEO of Volunteering Tasmania. She will take the position as CEO of Volunteering Australia in January 2017.

 

Volunteering Tasmania announces new CEO

The Board of Volunteering Tasmania is pleased to announce the appointment of a new CEO in January 2017, to replace Adrienne Picone who is relocating to Canberra to take up the helm as the CEO for Volunteering Australia, the national peak body for volunteering.

Alison Lai, who is well known through her previous roles in government, community development and voluntary Board and mentoring work, will take up the position on the 23rd January next year.

“I have very big shoes to fill thanks to Adrienne, who has done an incredible job establishing Volunteering Tasmania’s reputation as not only as experts in volunteering, but also as a welcoming and highly trusted community organisation.” Alison quoted yesterday.

Alison comes across from a busy government role at DPAC’s Sport and Recreation division, where she was in charge of Sport and Club Development, overseeing the state-wide team responsible for increasing the capacity of sport and recreation organisations to deliver sport in their communities.

“I am very excited to be joining the Volunteering Tasmania family and having the wonderful opportunity to play a key role in the next stages of their success and growth”, said Alison Lai about the appointment.

With a background in marketing and communications, community development and project management, Alison brings a wealth of experience working alongside volunteering involving organisations across a range of sectors. The Volunteering Tasmania Board are delighted with the appointment and believe that Alison has the skills and experience to move VT forward into its next stage of success and growth.

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Alison Lai, new CEO of Volunteering Tasmania

Community Sector peak bodies submit joint Treasury document

The Tasmanian community sector is a significant industry and employer within the Tasmanian economy, employing approximately 10,000 people.  The output of the health care and social assistance sector now represents almost 9% of Tasmania’s gross state product, making it the State’s second largest sector after agriculture, forestry and fishing.

Eleven peak bodies working within this sector have collaborated on a submission to the Tasmanian government highlighting where they believe spending should be focused in the 2017-2018 budget.  With multiple state and federal government reform agendas going ahead, it is an important time for the Tasmanian Community sector to work together for the betterment of the entire sector.

The first of two recommendations from the Tasmanian Community Sector Peak Body Network is the development of a Tasmanian Community Sector Industry Plan.  The development of a clear plan and framework will enable the community sector and state government to transition effectively through this period of national change, and ensure resources are most effectively used throughout the community sector.  Budget recommendations are $300,000 for research analysis and development of the Industry Plan, and a further $1,000,000 to support the transition and implementation of new models and approaches in line with the current and emerging reform agendas.

The second recommendation is for the State government to provide indexation of funding on all Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPAC) grant deeds, the goal being equity of funding to ensure strong and sustainable community sector peak bodies. Currently DHHS provides indexation but DPAC does not.  The budget recommendation is $2,500–$11,500 for each organisation based on indexation being delivered at current calculations.

The Tasmanian Community Services Peak Network will continue to work closely with government to guide and provide the Tasmanian community sector with the range of services and support it requires in the next ten years.

The full, four page submission can be downloaded here.   The Peak Network member organisations are as follows:

Tasmanian Community Sector Peak Body Network

Volunteering Tasmania’s Impact on Census Findings

Volunteering Tasmania (VT) made a submission to the Senate Economics Reference Committee during their inquiry into the administration and management of the 2016 Census. With the release of the findings, VT is pleased to see the Committee has formed recommendations based on these concerns.

“VT is concerned about the impact of the 2016 Census on the data captured around volunteering,” VT CEO Adrienne Picone said in the submission to the Senate Economics References Committee. “The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has long been a source for consistent, longitudinal data for the volunteering community.”

Investment in the ABS is vital as the resulting data is an important element of good, evidence-based decision-making necessary for volunteering involving organisations. Further suggestions made by VT included funding the ABS more broadly in the volunteering industry.

Recommendations taken from VT comments can be found in the official report on the 2016 Census. These include:

  • Recommendation 10: The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide portfolio stability for the ABS.
  • Recommendation 15: The committee recommends that the Australian Government provide sufficient funding for the ABS to undertake its legislated functions to a continued high standard.

Direct quotes from Volunteering Tasmania’s submission were referenced twice in the final report.

Volunteering Tasmania will continue to advocate for this on behalf of its stakeholders.

Further background on this story can be read on the Examiner newspaper website.

Sector priorities submitted to the Tasmanian Government

Volunteering Tasmania is privileged to be the peak body for volunteering, and to advocate on behalf of Tasmania’s volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations. The feedback and advice we get from the sector is so important to us – whether it comes though ongoing discussions, our bi-monthly Network meetings, our stakeholder surveys or other research – all of this feedback helps us to represent your needs.

As we move into 2017 we will continue to work hard to raise the profile of volunteering– both with government and in the wider community.

One of the key ways Volunteering Tasmania advocates the needs of the volunteering industry is through our Budget Priority Statements.  These documents let us formally outline to the State Government where we think investment can be made to support volunteering.

Our submissions span five government agencies, with recommendations around a range of different issues, including:

  • Better education around Working With Children and Vulnerable Adults
  • Investigate options for easy and more affordable insurance for Volunteer Involving Organisations
  • Develop agreements around the boundaries between paid and unpaid labour/volunteering
  • Explore opportunities for growing of voluntourism in Tasmania
  • Reinvigorate volunteering values in our schools

Budget Priority Statements were submitted to DPAC, the Department of State Growth, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, and can be read on the Policy and Advocacy page of our website.  We encourage you to read the priorities we have outlined –all of which are based on feedback from the volunteering industry.

We know that Tasmania currently enjoys high rates of volunteering in our community, with 4 in 5 Tasmanians donating time to their community, either in formal volunteering roles or informally in some way. However, feedback from the sector has told us that many people are concerned about how we sustain this going forward. Based on this, our key recommendation is for a Tasmanian Volunteering Strategy, developed in partnership with government and the volunteering sector. We believe this should be something measurable that can address key barriers to volunteering: be it transport, planning for our ageing population or finding opportunities to grow skilled and corporate volunteering.

Volunteering Tasmania believes that a strategy for volunteering would ultimately help Volunteer Involving Organisations better recruit, manage and retain volunteers. Having clear goals for growing volunteerism would deliver greater benefit to both volunteers and the organisations they work with. We also believe this strategic approach would deliver a better economic investment. Volunteering currently provides a total benefit to the community of $4.9 billion – our research* shows that by growing participation by just 1% we could see an average of $70.6 million in value delivered back to the Tasmanian community. It is therefore logical that prioritising investment in volunteering would deliver both social benefits and economic growth.

We welcome any feedback on our policy and advocacy work, as we continue to raise these issues over the next year. Please contact our Policy Officer, Courtney at CourtneyW@volunteeringtas.org.au or on (03) 6231 5550 if you have any comments or feedback.

* State of Volunteering Report 2014, a collaborative research project between Volunteering Tasmania and the Institute of Project Management.

Launch of the 2017 Tasmanian Volunteering Awards

To celebrate International Volunteering Day on 5 December, Volunteering Tasmania and Sarah Courtney, MP launched the 2017 Tasmanian Volunteering Awards at Launceston’s Electorate Office, to an enthusiastic gathering of distinguished guests, volunteering involving organisations, volunteers and sponsors.

These awards, hosted in partnership with Southern Cross Television, aim to recognise and reward the contribution of those who exhibit excellence in volunteering, and are Tasmania’s only state-wide volunteering recognition program.   The breadth and importance of a statewide Awards program is reflected in the list of sponsors – Department of Premier and Cabinet, MyState, Tasplan Super, Anglicare Lifestyle, CatholicCare, Lifeline, NRM South and Hydro Tasmania – all of whom mirror strong commitment to volunteerism in their own organisations.

Volunteering Tasmania have created a television commercial highlighting the amazing variety and number of volunteers in every sector and community in Tasmania. In a joint study done by the Institute of Project Management and Volunteering Tasmania, in 2014 Tasmanians volunteer 7.1 million hours a year, with the value of volunteering to the Tasmanian community being $4.9 billion annually.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of our community, they selflessly give up their time for the benefit of others, without seeking thanks.” Premier Will Hodgman quoted in the TV commercial.

There are a wide range of categories of Awards to vote for, including tourism, arts, heritage, sport and recreation, emergency volunteering and disaster relief, community care, education, science, animal care and conservation.

Individuals can also nominate their favourite Volunteer Manager or Corporate Volunteering program; in 2017 there is also a new category this year which allows people to vote for their favourite volunteering group.

Tasmanians are invited to nominate through the Nominations Page on this website. Nominations close at 5pm Friday 3 March 2017.

Awards and prizes will be presented at the beginning of National Volunteer Week, 8 May 2017; in a ceremony at Government House, hosted by Volunteering Tasmania’s Patron, Her Excellency Professor the Honourable Kate Warner, Governor of Tasmania.

Read more about the launch, including photos and video footage of speeches, in the Examiner newspaper.

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2017 Southern Cross Television Tasmanian Volunteering Awards Sponsors (from left): Rachel Stevens, Board Chair, Volunteering Tasmania; Nick Connor, COO, Tasplan Super; Debbie Evans, CEO, Lifeline Tasmania; Sarah Courtney, MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier; Ruth Chalk, Northern Area Manager, Anglicare Lifestyle; Jessica Lyons, Area Manager, MyState; Craig Davies, Regional General Manager, Southern Cross Austereo, Kate Hickey, Stakeholder and Community Coordinator, Hydro Tasmania.  Unable to attend:  Sponsors CatholicCare and NRM South.

Federal Government Launches ‘Giving Australia 2016’ research

The Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs, Senator the Hon Zed Seselja, launched Giving Australia 2016 at Parliament House on 1 December 2016.

The Australian Government Department of Social Services provided funding of $1.7 million for Giving Australia 2016 to increase understanding of giving and volunteering behaviours, attitudes and trends. Comprehensive and up-to-date information has been collected from individuals, charitable organisations, philanthropists and businesses in Australia.

Giving Australia 2016 will help us to better understand how and why Australians give and volunteer, how much they donate and how these factors affect our non-profit and philanthropy sector. The research will establish benchmark data to measure philanthropic and business giving and will provide a strong evidence base to encourage charity to help the most vulnerable people in our community.

The research is led by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies at Queensland University of Technology, in partnership with the Swinburne University of Technology and the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs.

Giving Australia 2016 fact sheets, background paper and literature review summary report can be found at Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership research projects.

Giving Australia 2016 reports will be released progressively in 2017.

International Volunteer Day – join a world movement

Volunteers are committed advocates of making the world a better place. From local community volunteers to those on the frontline of natural disasters, volunteers are quintessential to humanity – a billion volunteers globally bring communities together. It is volunteers, showing up and stepping up, who become global citizens and advocates for the shared human future of this planet.

The United Nations celebrates the value of volunteers around the world through International Volunteer Day on 5 December. International Volunteer Day 2016’s theme #GlobalApplause – give volunteers a hand – recognises volunteers worldwide and all they do in making peace and sustainable development a reality. We recommend viewing their UN Volunteers website for an impressive list of resources and a social media toolkit for thanking volunteers.

Volunteering Tasmania will be celebrating International Volunteer Day through the launch of the 2017 Tasmanian Volunteering Awards – Tasmania’s only state-wide volunteer recognition program. The launch is being co-hosted by Sarah Courtney, MP, who is the Parliamentary Secretary advising the Premier on volunteering matters. The launch will also screen a new Southern Cross television commercial encouraging all Tasmanians to nominate their favourite volunteer, volunteer program or volunteer manager.

For media enquiries on the 2017 Tasmanian Volunteering Awards please contact gwenh@volunteeringtas.org.au

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International Volunteer Day 2016