Volunteers worth billions but still ignored

AS we speed ahead through another Tasmanian election campaign, we are starting to see a flurry of election commitments to sectors and issues pertinent to the state.

Health, tourism, business, community services and infrastructure are generally at the top of the list, including the occasional sporting venue.

But experience tells me there will be a very important priority missing.

It’s a silent group that will underpin the success of many of these commitments.

They’re our volunteers.

You only have to scratch the surface of the sectors I’ve mentioned to find thousands of hardworking volunteers contributing to their success.

For example, tourism in Tasmania is booming but many aren’t aware of the thousands of volunteers that support our flagship industry.

Hundreds of volunteers are directly supporting the visitor experience either from the cruise ship gates, to the information centres or to our festivals and events.

There are thousands of volunteers taking pride in keeping our environment pristine, such as the Wildcare of Cradle Mountain volunteers, and those tucked away in our regional trails keeping local historical attractions open for our guests, like the Derby Schoolhouse Museum on the East Coast.

And whilst the Tasmanian business sector is dominated by small operators, many don’t realise there are also hundreds of volunteer business mentors, board members and industry ambassadors supporting the economic and entrepreneurial growth of our state.

Sporting clubs are also generally well catered for during an election, but the sustainability of the use and viability of that investment will rely on volunteers.

And we all know that volunteers are heavily supporting the community services sector but many are surprised to learn that in some of these workforces the paid staff are outnumbered more than 10 to one by volunteers.

My point is that Tasmania’s success is underpinned by our volunteers, and many of the funding commitments will rely on the contribution of our volunteers.

In fact, all of the political parties will be campaigning with a team of volunteers who will give their time freely to put up signs, door knock and attend community events.

So why do we not see volunteering higher up in the political discussions on how to support the liveability and economic viability of Tasmania?

Why do I hear political representatives telling me that volunteering is not on their agenda in this election because the issue is “not as important”?

Our volunteers represent the third largest workforce in Tasmania, and with their efforts conservatively estimated to be worth $4.9 billion every year, any reduction in that contribution would cripple some sectors.

The hard truth is that when many politicians say that they value volunteering, it’s actually the romance of the concept they think about.

That is, a group of community members coming together with no desire for financial gain to do something positive for themselves, and others.

But too often I witness a disregard about the issues that are impacting volunteers, making it harder for them to get involved or in the worst cases removing any motivation for them to volunteer at all.

Equally too often I witness a lack of awareness of the reliance our key industries have on volunteers and this lack of awareness is creating an apathy to the seriousness of this issue.

Regularly I find myself having to speak louder to convince people that although they may see volunteers as people undertaking hobbies that would be listed at the bottom of their resumes, that those volunteers’ combined contributions are having a significant impact to our state.

And for that they deserve more than just our thanks — they deserve the support of the government to invest in strategies that will proactively seek to safeguard their contribution.

I’m not referring to a commitment to an organisation that involves volunteers, as there’ll be plenty of those.

I’m referring to a commitment to invest in strategies and interventions that will keep and encourage more Tasmanians to volunteer.

Tasmania is lucky to have four in five people volunteering but the number of hours that they are contributing and their availability, particularly in our regional communities, is showing signs of decline.

There are a range of issues that are causing this trend and governments nationally and overseas are investing in strategies to address them.

Tasmania must do the same and Volunteering Tasmania has provided both major political parties with a comprehensive funding proposal to implement an evidence-based approach to help local communities safeguard volunteering.

To do otherwise is to have apathy for a multi-billion dollar industry that supports our quintessential Tasmanian way of life.

Tasmania has been built through the commitment of our volunteers, and it’s time for our government to show their commitment to them.

And a Tasmanian government that commits to safeguarding volunteering is one that is committing to securing Tasmania’s future.

Alison Lai

CEO, Volunteering Tasmania

Volunteers worth billions but still ignored 2018-02-07T16:27:28+00:00

Deputy CEO role – Are you our new Bonnie?

Our Deputy CEO, Bonnie, is moving onwards and upwards – so we need another Bonnie.

  • Flexible working environment where staff are seen as whole people
  • Autonomous role with strong support
  • Influence the strategic direction + operations of a for-purpose organisation

A diverse role in a vibrant team; you will support our people, our strategy, and the achievement of operational goals, and be ‘wing-person’ to the CEO.

Read more here

Deputy CEO role – Are you our new Bonnie? 2018-01-24T11:05:44+00:00

Festive Season Opening Hours

The Volunteering Tasmania team will not be available from midday Friday, 22 December through to Tuesday, 2 January. We’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a relaxing and safe holiday break.  See you next year, and thank you for all your support in 2017!

Festive Season Opening Hours 2017-12-22T12:46:03+00:00

Funding Commitment Eases Pressure

Volunteering Tasmania has welcomed yesterday’s announcement by the Liberal Government that if re-elected they will apply indexation and increase core funding provided to community peak organisations managed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
Volunteering Tasmania chief executive office, Alison Lai said that it was a relief to have clarity on a longstanding issue that was threatening to destabilise a number of peak organisations.
“The lack of indexation on the peak body funding agreements managed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet is not a new issue and one that has been haunting us all for a number of years,” Alison said.
“It’s also an issue that has been testing the financial resilience and stability of a number of community peak organisations who have genuinely been struggling to maintain services in the face of increasing costs and expectations.
“Volunteering Tasmania hasn’t been immune to those issues so it’s a relief to finally get certainty and a commitment from the Liberal Government on how they plan to address it.
“We now have commitments from both the Labor and Liberal parties to provide indexation, and the modest boost in core funding was an unexpected but greatly welcomed commitment from the Liberal Government.”
Acknowledging the importance of core funding for the sustainability of peak organisations, Alison applauded the Liberal Government’s commitment to recognise three new peaks.
“Carers Tasmania, The Tasmanian Men’s Shed Association and RSL Tasmania are incredibly important organisations undertaking valuable work in our community,” Alison said.
“It’s wonderful to have them elevated to a peak body status, and have a commitment that would provide increased financial sustainability so that they can continue to undertake their important work.”

Funding Commitment Eases Pressure 2017-12-22T12:44:00+00:00

Volunteering Tasmania’s 2018-19 Budget Priority Submission – message from our CEO

Dear valued supporters,

It is with great pleasure that I share with you a copy of Volunteering Tasmania’s 2018-19 Budget Priority Submission.

Our Submission to the Tasmanian Government, titled ‘Safeguarding Volunteering – Securing Tasmania’s Future’ details a collaborative and multi-phase community development project designed to safeguard volunteering across our island – particularly in our regional communities.

The approach outlined in our Submission was carefully crafted over a number of months in consultation with a diverse range of individuals, community, business and government stakeholders including the University of Tasmania, TasCOSS, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Local Government Association of Tasmania.

During our discussions with the community, we heard loud and clear the need for solutions to address a range of challenges facing volunteerism including compliance, volunteer fatigue, changing community expectations and the rising costs of volunteering.

Whilst these matters are not the focus of our 2018-19 Tasmanian Government Budget Submission, Volunteering Tasmania will progress these matters with impacted organisations, and continue to pursue collaborative strategies with our national, and state and territory counterparts to address these concerns.

This includes continuing our discussions with the national organisations who are leading the charge in the development digital platforms that will change the landscape of how compliance is managed for volunteers in the future. We will also continue our current discussions with the Department of Education, and other key Tasmanian education partners on reinvigorating volunteering in the Tasmanian education curriculum. We are also committed to continuing our investigations into best-practice volunteer management strategies suitable for all kinds of volunteers ranging from tourism, heritage and the arts to the environment and sport.

As you will see from our Submission, our focus for the 2018-19 State Budget is solely on securing funding for safeguarding volunteering for all organisations that deliver services in regional communities. We believe this is an urgent issue that required immediate attention and investment from the Tasmanian Government.

Over the coming months we will continue to lobby the Tasmanian Government for their support of our proposal, and we encourage (and welcome) your support in this process.

How can you support us? By contacting your local State Government representative and asking them to support our proposal!

Thank you once again, and I look forward to providing you an update on our progress in the New Year.

With kindest regards,


Volunteering Tasmania’s 2018-19 Budget Priority Submission – message from our CEO 2017-12-13T15:17:35+00:00

Tasmanian Women’s Strategy – submission to the Tasmanian Government

Volunteering Tasmania has submitted a proposal to the Tasmanian Government as part of the community consultation to develop the new Tasmanian Women’s Strategy (2018-2021).

We have recommended the extension of the existing ‘Women on Boards’ strategy to women volunteering on community for-purpose Boards; our submission argues that investment in the provision of accessible and affordable governance training for women on community for-purpose Boards will deliver significant results for these women, the organisations they support and the communities they assist.

Click here to read the full submission.

Tasmanian Women’s Strategy – submission to the Tasmanian Government 2017-12-13T15:05:50+00:00

What’s up with corporate volunteering in Tasmania?

Volunteering Tasmania is pleased to launch the Corporate Volunteering in Tasmania Report 2017.

This research, supported by the Tasmanian Government, reported a low but growing interest from a number of Tasmanian businesses implementing programs that encouraged their employees to volunteer during work hours.

Corporate volunteering is a relatively new concept in Tasmania, and whilst the research found a range of different programs in place, all businesses reported positive benefits for their organisations, their employees and the for-purpose community organisations they engaged with.

These benefits included:

  • Positive growth of the brand and reputation of the organisation in the wider community
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Higher employee job satisfaction
  • Cost effective training and development
  • Recruitment advantages in a competitive marketplace – particularly for younger employees seeking roles with a social purpose
  • Better employee retention rates

The research also identified benefits for the small number of for-purpose organisations involved in these programs, in particular the opportunity to access the skills that corporate volunteers bring into their teams.

With 96 per cent of employees interviewed demonstrating a desire to engage in a corporate volunteering program, the number of programs across Tasmania is anticipated to significantly increase.

To assist with this anticipated increase, Volunteering Tasmania has developed a suite of resources for their Members interested in developing corporate volunteering programs. These resources are based on the findings of this research.

For more information, or to register your interest in becoming involved in future corporate volunteering information workshops/events, contact Volunteering Tasmania on 6231 5550, or email BonnieT@volunteeringtas.org.au

Read the full report here.

What’s up with corporate volunteering in Tasmania? 2017-12-12T14:28:33+00:00

Permanently ‘popping up’ in Tasmania’s North West

To our valued Members and supporters in the North West,

As we come to the close of 2017, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your ongoing support.

I am also very pleased to share with you the news that we’ve returned to having an permanent presence on the coast.

As of yesterday, we welcomed Mark Shelton to our team as a part-time Community Engagement Officer (2 days per week), and also Anne Jacobsen as a Volunteer Referral Officer.

Both Mark and Anne will be based in Burnie, but will be out and about across Burnie, Ulverstone and Devonport on a regular basis.

We sincerely thank the Australian Red Cross, particularly the team in Burnie, for allowing us to share their office space. Without their support, this outcome would not be possible.

We also would not be able to make this happen without the ongoing support of LINC Tasmania, who will continue to host us at the Burnie, Ulverstone and Devonport LINC every month (for our face-to-face referral services in those areas).

This announcement is very important to Volunteering Tasmania, as many of you will remember the difficult decision that was made back in 2015 to close our Burnie office.

I am very proud of the Volunteering Tasmania team, who have worked hard to continue providing support and services in the North West from Hobart, and previously Launceston.

But we want to do more and to ensure that we can – we’re back!

Thank you for your ongoing support of us during this journey.

We have been very open about how our services are funded, and how recent Federal Government decisions have impacted our ability to maintain services across the island. These decisions have required us to keep adapting and piloting different approaches to deliver our services, and we are committed to finding a way to maintain a regular presence in the North West.

As always, I welcome all members of the community to get in touch and share their thoughts and feedback with me.

Or you can now come and see one of the team face-to-face!

Photo Left:  Mark Shelton, Volunteering Tasmania Community Engagement Officer with Ian Waller (on left), Regional Manager North West from the Australian Red Cross.

Photo Right: Anne Jacobsen, Volunteer Referral Officer (on right) with Councillor Kevin Hyland, a volunteer at the Lobster Pond Haven.   

Details for our pop-up office times are listed below, and if you would like some promotional items sent to you so that you can share the news about our local services, please contact us.

Remember, you can also contact the team with enquiries about education, volunteer management information and advice, or recruitment services – please don’t hesitate to call us, 1800-677-895.

Thank you again for your continued support.

A safe and joyful holiday season to you,




BURNIE LINC –  7 Dec, 9.30am – 12.30pm [Click for map]
ULVERSTONE LINC – 7 Dec, 2pm to 5pm [Click for map]
DEVONPORT LINC – 8 Dec, 9.30am – 12.30pm [Click for map]

2018 POP-UPs – start in February

BURNIE LINC –  First Thursday of every month, 9.30am – 12.30pm
ULVERSTONE LINC – First Thursday of every month, 2pm to 5pm
DEVONPORT LINC – First Friday of every month, 9.30am – 12.30pm

Permanently ‘popping up’ in Tasmania’s North West 2017-12-19T11:24:36+00:00

International Volunteer Day – no man is an island

There’s a saying that no man is an island.

It’s a popular phrase that means no man, or woman, can get things done on their own and we all need help from others.

And being a proud Tasmanian, and literally living on an island, I know this to be true.

Whether it be asking for help from our local neighbours or answering a call from our friends across Bass Strait, Tasmanian volunteers are renowned for their willingness to rally around those in need.

Today is International Volunteer Day, and alongside millions of others around the world I want to take this opportunity to thank our volunteers for what they do.

But on this occasion I also want to ensure that volunteers in Tasmania realise how the impact of what they do extends beyond our state and national borders.

Because many of our volunteers would not realise that they are part of a global movement.

That is, in 2015 the United Nations released the Sustainable Development Goals – 17 goals aimed at ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all.

Included in these goals are actions addressing issues ranging from ensuring everyone has access to clean water and quality education, protecting life under the water and on land and addressing gender equality and climate action.

The United Nations has referred to these goals as a ‘truly transformative agenda’ and one that ‘places people and the planet at the centre’.

The United Nations has also highlighted the importance of volunteerism in achieving these goals.

Referring to volunteers as being a ‘powerful and cross cutting means of implementation’, it’s wonderful to have the United Nations recognise how volunteers are assisting to progress issues of global significance.

And next year Australia will have its chance to share with the rest of the world how we’re tracking against these international goals.

It’s not compulsory for a country to provide an update but at the moment the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is preparing to deliver Australia’s very first progress report.

To be presented in New York in July next year, we will stand in front of representatives from 30 countries and share with the world how we’re tracking.

And when providing our report it’s likely the Australian Government will include information showcasing our policy and industry advancements and also hopefully, the efforts of our volunteers.

To ensure the voices of our volunteers are included, we’ll certainly be providing information to the government that showcases their contribution.

This information will include the contribution of our incredible Tasmanian volunteers.

Tasmanian volunteers such as Catherine Wheatley, who established the charity ‘Water for a Village’ and has built wells in Ethiopia bringing clean water to people who have never even tasted it before.

Tasmanians like Melody Towns, who voluntarily founded ‘Be Her Freedom’, a charity that raises awareness of human trafficking and modern day slavery, and raises funds for global initiatives combating this issue.

We also have the long-term efforts of Christine Bennett OAM, who tirelessly volunteers to raise funds for the charity BCCAfrica, a primary school for orphaned and vulnerable children in Kenya.

And our volunteers don’t have to be providing support to those overseas to be contributing towards the United Nation’s goals.

We could also include the work of organisations like Wildcare, our largest environmental volunteer group with more than 6,000 volunteers supporting the conservation of our island’s natural assets.

I know that there’s more Tasmanian examples I could provide to the Australian Government to demonstrate how volunteers are indeed proving to be, as the United Nations explained, a powerful means of implementation.

And they’re doing it from right here in our island-home.

Who knows, perhaps when the Australian Governments stands in front of their international peers to showcase our national progress, we can convince them to give mention some of our home-grown examples.

So on this International Volunteer Day, I thank all the Tasmanians volunteering their time and talent to the causes and passions close to their heart.

But I also ask them to stand proud, knowing that whilst we might live on an island, and sometimes we get left off the Australian map, when it comes to volunteering our impact is global.

Alison Lai is the chief executive officer of Volunteering Tasmania, the peak body supporting and advocating for volunteers and the organisations that involve them.

International Volunteer Day – no man is an island 2017-12-05T12:14:33+00:00

Thank your volunteers by giving the gift of membership!

As we approach International Volunteer Day (December 5), it’s a time where coordinators and managers of volunteers start to think hard about what they can do to express their appreciation for the contribution of their wonderful volunteers.

This year, Volunteering Tasmania is making it easy for you. We have drastically reduced the cost of Individual Memberships to just $10 per person, as long as you are giving that Membership to a volunteer.

This is a great gift any time of year, but is particularly special to celebrate IVD, the end of the year, and/or a faith-based event like Christmas.

The steps are simple:

  1. Email us at BonnieT@volunteeringtas.org.au, letting us know how many Memberships you’d like to purchase
  2. We send you a document to collect the details about the volunteers you are buying Membership for, along with an invoice for the full amount
  3. You complete the document and payment
  4. We send you an E-Gift Card for you to email to, or print for your volunteers.

This offer is available until 15 December, but please apply early to account for processing.

Please note that International Volunteer Day (5 Dec) requests must be received by Tuesday 28 November.

Special_Offer_IVD2017_horizontal image

Thank your volunteers by giving the gift of membership! 2017-11-22T14:36:36+00:00