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Highly Skilled Volunteers and Cultural Diversity (2008)

Engaging skilled, culturally diverse people via volunteering

The Centre for Volunteering has been running a series of projects focussed on people who are skilled, but whose cultural background might be limiting their career prospects. Projects have explored issues connected with these people finding volunteer positions, and on helping not-for-profit (NFP) organisations to recruit these people for mutual benefit. Volunteer work by these people will help increase their social inclusion in Australian society.

The initial project was titled: “Highly Skilled with Insufficient English” Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Volunteers Utilisation Research Project. A research report was developed in June, 2008. The project was initiated by The Centre for Volunteering (“The Centre”) after its Research Department became aware that the number of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) people wanting to volunteer was increasing, and that a substantial number of people from CALD backgrounds were found to have difficulties communicating in English. At the same time, it was identified that CALD volunteers who were highly skilled in managerial, technical or other professional areas were using volunteering to improve their English, maintain their skills and learn about the Australian workplace. This is a way they can make a valuable contribution to the NFP sector, which is in need of their skills. It also improves the volunteers’ employment prospects: a win/win situation.

The project was designed to investigate if NFP organisations currently using highly skilled CALD volunteers had developed strategies that were able to utilise the volunteers’ expertise and capability. The output of the study was to suggest strategies that would assist organisations in using Highly Skilled Insufficient English CALD volunteers by overcoming the communication challenges. The study also recommended that a further study was done into the current contribution by HSIE CALD volunteers and their potential participation in the volunteering field. Download the Highly Skilled with Insufficient English” Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Volunteers Utilisation Research Report (PDF) The project following from the above ran from 2008 – 2010. It was called the Skilled Diversity Project and researched the factors that make utilisation of highly skilled culturally diverse volunteers by NFP organisations successful (both for the volunteer and the organisation).

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