Hydro’s program began in 2011, recognising the value of volunteering for professional and personal growth. They utilise published procedures and a full-time qualified coordinator; options are flexible and employees do all forms of volunteering – one-off or ongoing, projects, and skilled volunteering.
All participants volunteer with a community organisation of their choice to lift capacity and improve their strategic thinking, problem-solving, self-awareness and confidence. Hydro have benchmarked their program against larger programs, reviewed it against community and employee expectations, and feedback is sought so that it continues to improve.
In 2017 Hydro incorporated volunteering in a leadership program for women: ‘Hydro Women Leading into the Future’. This program was developed to redress gender imbalance and empower and encourage women towards leadership – particularly younger women. Amongst many other partnerships, Hydro have also joined The Smith Family’s Career Mentor program, where Hydro volunteers guide final year tertiary students to transition into work, noting that Tasmania needs young people to stay in the State and have jobs in regional locations.
The MyState ‘Hands On’ volunteering program offers staff one paid leave day annually where they are encouraged to give back to their local community. The program has been in existence since approximately 2001, and in the past few years they have refined their approach to maximise flexibility for staff, and to provide them with targeted volunteering opportunities.
MyState employees are deeply passionate about the community and have the resources that have the potential to create significant social impact. The power of helping others contributes to staff’s mental and physical wellbeing in a positive way; there is a feeling of pride and achievement within staff who participate.
MyState’s relationship with business partners and community organisations has also been strengthened. Volunteering communications are at the forefront of staff engagement, with their newsletter, intranet and word of mouth spreading the positive message of volunteering. MyState encourage staff to provide feedback and leads for alternative volunteering opportunities. Staff can share their experiences and work together to support their local communities as a united front.
The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania
The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania is a specialist Community Legal Centre for residential tenants across the state, offering free services such as tenancy advice and support. Their aim is to secure the rights of all tenants by providing free legal advice, representation and education, as well as advocating for the improvement of tenants’ rights.
The volunteering program is comprised mostly of solicitors, law students and law graduates, who volunteer their time to staff the Telephone Advice Line, answering questions and giving advice without bias, prejudice or judgement, and maintaining client confidentiality at all times. Many of the callers who benefit from this volunteering program are in low income or disadvantaged groups who would struggle to gain any assistance without these volunteers tirelessly devoting their time and skills.
This program also gives law students and graduates an opportunity to be directly involved in the legal world and get a foot in the door in a supportive environment.