The National Volunteering Conference 2018, was held at the International Convention Centre, Sydney, from 20-22 June 2018. Hosted by Volunteering Australia, and supported by Territory peak partner Volunteering and Contact ACT, the overall theme for the Conference, attended by more than 650 delegates, was ignite, invigorate and inspire.

The range of topics covered over the three days was vast – especially with the inclusion of emergency management streams and content including workshops, specifically designed for Australian Emergency Management Volunteers.

A brief overview of some of the keynote addresses at The Conference provides an indication of the range of topics covered.- The first keynote speaker was Dr Susan Alberti AC. Susan spoke of overcoming obstacles in her life and her work. She is known as the Footy Lady, as she has done much work in advancing women in sport, particularly in AFL.

The day two keynote presentation by Chris Jarvis, of Realized Worth, introduced Impact 2030: The UN Sustainable Development Goals as a Key Strategy for Nation-Building. This topic provides an array of opportunities for not-for-profit organisations to start measuring and reporting their contribution towards the attainment of the UNSDGs.

The day three keynote addressed the challenges faced by organisations recruiting and retaining volunteers. With more people under increasing time pressure in their everyday lives, what is the future for traditional volunteering and how do we prepare for this change? Dr Megan Paull of Murdoch University, Andrew Apostola of Portable, Maria MacNamara of Spark Festival and Sarah Wilson of Volunteering and Contact ACT spoke on how organisations can adapt to changing demands.

The Conference closed with a very entertaining celebrity panel consisting of Paula Duncan, Adam Goodes, Jean Kittson, Judy Nunn and Bruce Venables. Who doesn’t want to end a conference with a good laugh and a song!

The Conference not only provided opportunities for learning, it also provided opportunities for group mobilisation. For example, the Emergency Management stream finished day two of the Conference having developed a number of submissions that will be tabled with higher levels of government and organisations. Watch this space!

At the conclusion of the Conference, The Value of Volunteering Support Services research project was released by Volunteering Australia. The report, which provides a socio-economic analysis and evaluation of the value of Commonwealth funded Volunteering Support Services, found the services enabled nearly 12.3 million volunteer hours in 2017, worth $477.5 million. The report found that despite an increasing demand for the services of Volunteering Support Services, government contribution has remained static.

The staff and volunteers who attended the Conference from the Centre for Volunteering, found the experience not only informative and enjoyable, but a great opportunity to share experiences and information with others in the sector. We look forward to the next National Volunteering Conference in 2020!