Volunteering and Settlement in Australia: A Snapshot
65 per cent of new arrivals to Australia volunteered within the first 18 months of their arrival to Australia, to contribute to society, make friends, improve their English or gain local work experience.
In the joint report from The Settlement Council of Australia (SCoA) and Volunteering Australia, released on Thursday 23 May 2019, SCoA CEO, Tammy Woods noted, “Nearly one-third (31%) of all Australians are volunteers. It’s more than double that within refugee and migrant communities…”
The findings of this report have led to recommendations and conclusions to encourage greater understanding, participation and opportunities for further research, consultation and collaboration with the volunteering and settlement sectors to work out what is needed in order to develop culturally appropriate training materials and models.
- Australia is a nation built on immigration and diversity. The 2016 Census indicates that 49% of Australians are either born overseas, or have one or both parents who were born overseas.
- In Australia, charities rely on the efforts of volunteers for many of their activities. Volunteers encompass 2.97 million members of the charitable sector workforce, compared to one million paid staff members. The Giving Australia 2016 report on non-profits and volunteering has also found that 62.3 per cent of organisations in the not-for-profit sector actively recruited volunteers.
- Volunteering can lead to employment by increasing workforce participation and connecting people to career paths that are better paid and more stable. Research conducted by SEEK Volunteer has found that:
- 95% of employers believe that volunteering can be a credible way of gaining real-work experience to add to your resume.
- 85% of recruiters believe that volunteering is just as credible as paid work as long as it is relevant to the role or industry the person works in.
- 92% of employers said that relevant volunteer experience gives candidates an advantage in job interviews.
Other highlights from the report include:
- For new arrivals to Australia, having skills and qualifications recognised is vital to attaining employment. Volunteering is important to gaining local work experience or an Australian referee.
- While volunteering provides no financial incentive it does promote community connections and a strong self of positive self-worth by preparing refugees to enter the workforce. Volunteering has been found to have direct positive benefits for new arrivals’ physical and mental health, improved access to healthcare and promoted cultural and social integration.
- Volunteering can also be an effective way of improving English language skills by allowing recent arrivals to Australia to immerse themselves in an Australian workplace or organisational setting, network, being introduced to cultural norms and practice their language skills among peers.
- Volunteer management plays a critical role in successful volunteer engagement. The role of managers of volunteers in recruitment, induction, training, support and management is indispensable to ensuring safe and effective volunteering.
- To support Volunteer Involving Organisations, Volunteering Australia has developed The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement, which is the best-practice framework for volunteer management. Volunteering Australia recommends the use of the Standards to help organisations attract, manage, recognise and retain volunteers, and to manage risk and safety with respect to volunteers.