Volunteering at ACES (Aboriginal Community Elders Service)

This story is from Dimi  Bouzalas, a volunteer with Aboriginal Community Elders Service (ACES).

For me, volunteering at ACES, an organisation that provides services to Indigenous people, is a culmination of decisions, insights and wishes built up over many years.

Volunteering with Indigenous people has opened up a world for me far beyond my imaginings. I had just returned from a holiday to see the country my parents were born in and was lamenting to an Elder my dilemma of not knowing which was my ‘real’ country. “Dim, this is your home. You were born here, you belong here.” My heart beat paused and my breath stopped on hearing these words. I had grown up the ‘migrant girl’, different, not really a part of this world. Yet, this handful of words from this special man, an Indigenous fellow, transformed my life.

For the first time I felt a sense of belonging, a feeling I had never known before, a profound feeling, which changed my entire outlook to my life in Australia.

Definitely this elder is a very special man, but it is what I find when I communicate with most Indigenous people where I volunteer – words don’t have to be many, but the message can be profound; talk is usually straight and frank, whilst at the same time it is considerate and generous.

As much as my purpose for volunteering is to give, I am humbled by what I am learning. I am still adjusting my mind through the miniscule insights I have had when a person wholly identifies as being a part of this country and has an unquestionable sense of belonging. The people at the centre have taught me how a steadier pace of life enables greater connections between people themselves, and with the land.

Volunteering at ACES is one of my week’s highlights and I feel so privileged with the smiles I receive when I get there. The wit and humour makes each day a treat and I only wish Elvis could pay a visit for a new rendition of Lawdy, Miss Clawdy.

For more information on the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES), please contact.

Fiona Seeney, Program Coordinator
Aboriginal Community Elders Services
5 Parkview Avenue
Brunswick East 3057
Telephone: 03 9383 4244
Facsimile: 03 9384 1532
Website: www.acesinc.org.au

Sailors with disABILITIES put volunteers on the high seas

It’s a sunny and warm day in Melbourne and a class of students with disabilities is about to embark on a Winds of Joy sailing program run by Australian charity Sailors with disABILITIES (SWD). The class from Springvale Park Special Development School arrive at Docklands Marina where SWD volunteers meet them and, together, they walk down to the boat, students excitedly asking the volunteers questions about the boat, sailing and the Yarra River. After they slip into their lifejackets and board the boat, the students are quiet and attentive while listening to the Skipper’s welcome and safety briefing.

Within minutes of setting off, however, sun shining on them, wind in their hair and the Skipper telling pirate jokes, the quiet students crack a smile and the more outgoing students stretch their hands up to be chosen to steer. The boat’s name is Ninety Seven, a 47 foot racing yacht and Sydney Hobart Yacht Race winner, so accepting the challenge to take the wheel is quite brave!

For the next two hours, quiet or outgoing, each student is coaxed out of their comfort zone and even the quiet ones have a go at steering or winding winches.

The SWD program gives students a huge boost in self-belief which is all because of the volunteer crew and the chance to get involved in a safe space outside their comfort zones. SWD volunteers have been trained to work with children with disabilities to develop teamwork and self-confidence in students with disabilities  

“It’s the ultimate confidence boost and far beyond anything most students who come on board have ever done before,” says Richard O’Hara, SWD’s Melbourne Coordinator. “For most, it’s their first time on a yacht and, for some, it may be their first time on a boat.”

SWD has run the Winds of Joy program for children with disabilities in Melbourne since 2016, operating every Monday and Tuesday during school terms. SWD programs are fully volunteer-led and attract all types of volunteers, young and older, retired and working, from individuals who’ve sailed all their lives, through to beginner sailors who simply want to give something back to society while learning something new.

Beginner volunteer sailors often relate well with many of the first-time student sailors. They experience the same curiosity and hesitation as the students—they’re “in the same boat” (pun intended) metaphorically and literally and they form a bond from the shared experience of overcoming nerves and fears together.

Eddy Borg is one such volunteer. Eddy had no experience on a yacht when he started volunteering with SWD. “I felt intimidated to rock up at a sailing club as a novice volunteer sailor,” he said. “But volunteering enables me to learn a new skill and bringing joy to others is my main goal. The smiles and laughter I’ve seen on the students’ faces is priceless—that’s an acknowledgement that you’ve succeeded.”

Eddy explained that the beauty with SWD is that it’s about engaging with students; learning to sail is a bonus, but not the aim.

“Having said that,” Eddy says, “one of my realisations since joining SWD is that sailing is a skill that can be learned and enjoyed by anyone.”

Eddy says, “Sailing allows me to give back. Depending on the students’ disabilities, sometimes it can be difficult but I’ve found that simply sitting beside them can be enough. Other times, we chat and I’ve had lots of fun especially at the front of the boat chatting and showing students how the bow works and how to keep a look out for ships and land.”

Cruising down the Yarra River is a special experience for participants since much of the sailing in Melbourne occurs within Port Philip Bay at many of the local yacht clubs. The typical route on an SWD sail is to start at Docklands and sail down the Yarra until it meets the bay where it heads back towards the city. On the boat, the crew assist and instruct on how to tack and navigate along the river as well as engage with students on a personal level.

Even for some of the veteran crew members, these sails are a unique and rewarding experience. Paul Commins, who is a member of the Sandringham Yacht Club and one of SWD’s seasoned skippers, started sailing when he was thirteen years old and has sailed on and off for the past forty years.

 “Every time I go out on the water,” Paul says, “It’s different. When you’re sailing, you hear the boat cutting through the water. It’s an amazing feeling how the boat moves and responds as it’s being pushed by the wind and I get satisfaction from sharing the experience with other people.”

Paul explains that the greatest joy, though, is the response from children.

“I enjoy telling stories and giving them a unique experience, which can help change their lives. Each group and student is different, so each time we go out it’s a unique experience as they respond and interact with the conditions on that day with their own set of skills and gifts,” Paul says.

The feedback from schools has been overwhelmingly positive. SWD Melbourne Coordinator, Richard O’Hara explains, “I have heard students say that this is the best day of their life. We hear so many positive comments when we sail. And we’re following up afterwards and teachers tell us that kids still fondly recall their experience months or even a year later,” he says.

SWD is having an impact on the lives of students and, by extension, their teachers, classes and families.

“We hear from teachers how the experience gives students perspective and confidence. For some students, it’s a turning point which helps propel them outside their comfort zones in their day to day lives, taking on challenges they wouldn’t normally ever do and tackling obstacles they’d normally find frightening in their daily life,” Richard says. “They think, ‘well, I sailed on a racing yacht, so I can do this—like make new friends or stand up and talk in the classroom’.”

When he looks back at the inaugural season, Richard explains, “We gave over 600 participants a life changing experience and chance to learn new skills, challenge themselves and gain in confidence. This was all thanks to our patient, committed and caring team of volunteers. Our programs are free of charge so attracting enough volunteers to give up their time and help on board in on-water programs is critical.”

For SWD Melbourne, the next few months will be about preparing for the next sailing program season, starting in September. The aim is to increase the number of sail sessions per week and more volunteers are needed to do that.

SWD Melbourne also hopes to start running the Winds of Change program for disadvantaged students, which is run one day a week for eight consecutive weeks.

“It offers young people who are disengaged or disconnected from school or home the opportunity to participate in an inclusive, challenging and team oriented program which is designed to build leadership and teamwork skills and increase their self-confidence,” Richard says. “It’s been running in Sydney successfully for years and we hope to offer it to students in Melbourne who are experiencing disadvantage. To make it happen, we need more volunteers to join up.”

If you would like to change young lives and make a difference through sailing with children and adults with disabilities and those who experience disadvantage, please head to www.sailorswithdisabilities.com or contact Richard O’Hara at info2@sailorswithdisabilities.com.

ABOUT SWD: SWD is a tax-deductible charity founded in 1994. It’s fully funded by the generosity of donations from the public and is run by volunteers, some of whom have a disability. Since 1994, SWD has established permanent operations in Sydney and Melbourne, has grown its fleet to 5 yachts, developed 3 sailing programs, and improved over 47,000 lives through sailing.

SWD also runs annual Winds of Joy outreach programs in Hobart in February, as well as multiple areas throughout Queensland and northern NSW during the winter months.

Besides running sailing programs, SWD has also successfully competed in major ocean races and, in 2003, SWD achieved a world record as the fastest mono-hull yacht in recorded history to sail nonstop unassisted around Australia. The nonstop circumnavigation took just over 37 days. That SWD happened to be a disabled crew was a bonus and a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the capabilities of people with disabilities.

By Winnie Yu and Gayle Pescud

Volunteers help young refugees to make Australia home

Starting life in a new country can be a challenge, but a volunteer can make it easier for young refugees to make Australia home.

Ucan2 is a partnership between AMES Australia, the Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY) and Foundation House. Ucan2 supports young people (16-24 years) who are newly arrived to Australia and from a refugee or migrant background.

The Ucan2 program is delivered with the support of committed and passionate volunteers who share their life experiences and skills with young people and help them make informed decisions about their education and career pathways. This is especially important for young people as they transition from learning English to studying and working in the wider community.

Former Ucan2 volunteer, Jane Pirouc, said “the most rewarding part of volunteering for Ucan2 has to be all of the amazing people I have met. Whether they have been students, other volunteers or the facilitators. The stories, smiles and surprises, which everyone brings, have made every class different.”

Over the past year alone, Ucan2 volunteers worked with over 200 newly arrived young people in Melbourne, to feel supported in discussing their goals and identifying education and career pathways.

Becoming a Ucan2 volunteer requires a commitment of 2.5 hours one afternoon each week over the course of a semester. CMY provides training to all volunteers and ongoing support.

For more information or to apply to become a volunteer, please visit http://cmy.net.au/ucan2.

Cass Jones on YRIPP: “Young people are grateful I’ve turned up to support them”

Volunteers at the Youth Referral and Independent Person Program (YRIPP) support young people being interviewed by police.

YRIPP volunteers are on call to help young people navigate the police station experience, which can be a lonely and daunting time for a young person.

One of YRIPP’s volunteers, Cass Jones, explains why she enjoys supporting young people in the regional town of Mildura.

“While I was studying Youth Work I saw an ad for YRIPP and it looked like a great opportunity to put my studies into practice. I wanted to make a positive impact on young people’s lives and I felt that I could definitely do that as a volunteer with YRIPP.

Walking into a police station you never know what you might be faced with and each call out certainly has its own challenges. But the experience is always rewarding and I leave feeling like I have made a difference. On the whole, young people are grateful I’ve turned up to support them.”

Cass says that her volunteering has also helped her to get to know her local community.

“I moved to Mildura eight years ago, and it’s a town with an amazing sense of community. Everyone is always happy to help others in need, something you don’t see as much in larger cities.

Volunteering with YRIPP gives you the chance to connect with your local community and contribute to the lives of young people. It’s also a great way to meet new people and foster new friendships.”

Cass also says that the organisation provide great support to their volunteers.

“The training and support received from YRIPP is outstanding and you never feel alone or unappreciated. YRIPP is a really is an amazing organisation to engage with and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Mums paired with volunteer ‘Caring Mums’ for support

Why is becoming a mum often an emotionally charged time for women? For new mums, things are suddenly no longer the way they were. Nothing is the same. Her body is changing. Her role at work has had to go on hold or be reduced. Her relationships have changed as spontaneity goes out the window. Her income is often decreased and she can lose her sense of identity as she adjusts to her new role of mother.

Volunteers applying for the Caring Mums Program recognise these issues and concerns from their own experiences as mums.

The Caring Mums Program began in Melbourne in 2012 with the mission of pairing volunteer mums with new mothers to offer additional emotional support through this challenging period of life.

According to family therapist and parent educator Michelle Kornberg, people today are more mobile often due to relocation from the extended family. Many mothers find themselves without the support of ‘the village’ at the beginning of their journey of motherhood. They can feel quite isolated, unsupported and at risk of postnatal depression.

Michelle heard about the Caring Mums Program starting in Victoria under the auspices of the National Council of Jewish Women Australia – Victoria, (NCJWAVIC). An inner urge drew her to apply for the position of Program Coordinator. Ironically, she was not really looking for something new at that time. She had plenty going on in her life to keep her busy and involved.

“But when I saw the elements of the program, it was really something I so believed in! It has become one of my greatest passions,” said Michelle.

Michelle says she was really fortunate to have had amazing support around her when she was a new mum yet admits she still found it emotionally difficult at the time. Her thoughts are often with new mothers who have no support. Now working with the Caring Mums Program, she and her team of volunteers are on a quest to empower new mums and make sure no woman is alone through her motherhood journey.

“I feel that every woman should be emotionally supported as she adjusts to the biggest change she will ever go through and that is becoming a mum,” she stated.

The Caring Mums Program

The Caring Mums Program evolved from an earlier program initiated in Boston that was so successful it travelled to Israel. Later it was brought to New South Wales where it is known as Mum For Mum and run by the National Council of Jewish Women Australia (NSW). Four years ago it was introduced in Victoria and became known as Caring Mums.

“I felt really excited to be on the brink of a program that I felt was going to be so rewarding not just for the mums who were about to be on the receiving end of something that would have an incredible social impact but also for the work I would be doing in finding and training volunteers!” Michelle told me.

Winning at the Volunteering Victoria State Volunteer Awards

Michelle and I first met at the inaugural Volunteering Victoria State Awards ceremony at Parliament House in 2015 where she accepted the winning entry for the Impact Award on behalf of the NCJWAVIC for its Caring Mums Program. Now a year later, we were sitting over coffee chatting about how she became involved with volunteers and the program.

At the start of the program, Michelle’s days were filled with endless tasks on her to do list. Her appointment calendar was bursting. She had to creating a training manual and set up training. She needed to go out and promote the program to referral sources to ensure it would be embraced. Then she had to recruit volunteers.

“I went to local Councils, local family services, medical professionals and clinics which work with pregnant women and new mums to talk to people about promoting the program. Fortunately often the verbal response was ‘if only there was a service like this when I had children!’” she said.

To be eligible potential volunteers had to be somewhere on their own journey of motherhood as new mothers needed a role model who had experienced a similar journey.

Meanwhile, Michelle was allocated a small space in the offices of NCJWAVIC in Caulfield with one computer, a desk space and calendar. Volunteer Sharon Stone, (not that Sharon Stone!) who was already working with NCJW, came on board to assist her.

“Admin work is not my forte let me tell you! I’m a people person not a computer person,” jokes Michelle.

Pairing volunteer Caring Mums with new mums

Judging from the positive response to Michelle’s callout for volunteers, many women wanted to be involved in the program.

“We were inundated with responses. We held an information evening and volunteers were individually interviewed and we ended up with 24 potential volunteers for the new Caring Mums Program,” she told me.

Eighteen hours of training delivered over six weeks followed. It focused on communication, empowerment, the importance of non-judgmental support and active listening. Also the training highlighted ‘red flags’ for mental health and domestic violence issues.

The first Caring Mums volunteer was paired with an older mum with her first child. This mum had received no local support but now that was all about to change.

“This was a mum who felt very isolated even though she was surrounded by lots of loving caring people. And it was only when the relationship with the volunteer was well established that she felt really heard and understood for the first time. I knew then that the power of good training combined with an excellent caring volunteer was a winning combination!” said Michelle.

Volunteer Caring Mum Sharon

Volunteer Sharon Stone started volunteering as a Volunteer Caring Mum with the Caring Mums Program at its inception in 2012.

Regular reliable ongoing meetings between Caring Mums volunteers and their mums allow for a meaningful sincere trusting relationship to develop.

Sharon’s first experience was working with a single older mother living in inner Melbourne who was feeling isolated and unsupported.

“She didn’t have a partner and her family was living far away. Her previous life was as a high achieving career woman. Now as a mum she didn’t know anyone who had newborn babies to talk to about motherhood,” said Sharon.

“She told me that she felt lonely and uncertain about her future as a single mother. She was concerned about her financial situation, about the repercussions of going back to work and hesitant about meeting people in a social setting,” continued Sharon.

Every mum is different and her needs are different. This particular mum felt like things were missing in her life. Prior to motherhood she had been a very organised career woman. Sharon sensed that this mum was a structural thinker. So together they sat down and made a kind of a bucket list of what she would like to see her ‘new’ life become.

“This remedy worked very well for this mum but I’ve had countless mums since and that would not be the right approach for them. It’s not always about making a list but sometimes living in the moment and letting things happen organically,” said Sharon.

Another mum that she was paired with was from Germany and had no family around her. Her husband was working away and she was also feeling isolated, she and Sharon would meet on a weekly basis.

“I was a sounding board for all that was troubling her in that period of her life with her new baby. When her year with Caring Mums was up, we kept in touch. Actually she called me a year later to tell me she was expecting again and would like to re-establish our relationship for her second child,” said Sharon.

Recently one of the volunteers rang Sharon full of excitement telling her that her ‘mum’ had asked her to go wedding dress shopping with her and she just felt so privileged to be the ‘stand in’ mum.

The Caring Mums Program is offered for 12 months but a mum can opt out whenever she feels she’s ready. It’s a time when the volunteer mums know they have done their job well and can celebrate becoming redundant that is until they are allocated their next new mum!

By Volunteer Writer Lesley Sharon Rosenthal for Volunteering Victoria

For more information on volunteering as a Caring Mum or if you know a mum who needs help please call:

Michelle Kornberg – Caring Mums Program Coordinator
National Council of Jewish Women
131 Hawthorn Road, Caulfield 3161
Email: caringmums@ncjwavic.org.au
Tel: 03 9044 5405
Website: ncjwavic.org.au/caringmums

Twelve Days of Volunteering: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

International Volunteers day 2016’s theme #globalapplause– give volunteers a hand, recognising volunteers worldwide and all they do in making peace and sustainable development a reality. UN Volunteers orchestrated a round of #GlobalApplause to recognise all volunteers everywhere and the contribution they make.

Volunteering Victoria continued the celebrations for twelve more days into the festive season and brought you the “Twelve Days of Volunteering” to reflect the diversity and broad cross section of volunteering activities that occur throughout Victoria, each and every day.

Volunteering:  ‘Time willingly given for the common good without financial gain’

The definition of volunteering provides and insight into the broader and more inclusive reflection of  the diversity of volunteering activities undertaken nationally. As International Volunteers Day has been celebrated throughout the world, here in Australia over 5.8 million^ individuals over the age of 15, who this year contributed over 743^ million hours of volunteering to the Australian community, celebrated in various ways. (^ABS 2015 study)

The twelve-day campaign was developed to recognise and celebrate our volunteers and support services within Victoria. Each day we shared volunteers support organisations, volunteer involving organisations or volunteers’ stories so we can celebrate their gift, brighten your day with the magic of active citizenship and share the powerful movement that is volunteering.  #Global applause – remember to give your volunteers and volunteer managers a hand.

They are at the heart of our community.

Volunteers’ gift to the community



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Twelve Days of Volunteering: Put a little love in your heart!

Volunteering Victoria is the peak body for volunteering in Victoria. Through our dynamic and transformative leadership we will promote and build a vibrant, prosperous and strong volunteering community that is inclusive, respected and sustainable. Our Vision is resilient communities and empowered and active citizens through volunteering.

We are the peak body for ‘all things volunteering’ (people and organisations) in Victoria, and in our leadership role for the volunteer sector we often have campaigns to raise awareness of the value of volunteering and the part it plays within our community, drawing examples of the diverse ways volunteering happens.

It is part of Volunteering Victoria’s purpose to support the growth & empowerment of the volunteering community.  Imagine the possibilities is a campaign to raise awareness of the value of volunteering to our community & the diversity of ways volunteering happens.

The development & implementation of the campaign is a working example of the power & depth of volunteering within our community. The campaign features real organisations, from real locations, aiming to help real people & causes. It showcases the diversity of volunteering & the true, full impact of volunteers

Its bursts a few stereotypical myths & ideas about volunteering and highlights that volunteers are active citizens making a difference & that volunteering can transform lives & communities

Each organisation has used the campaign to promote their service or cause, showcase the value of their  volunteers & attract new volunteers. It recognises the economic and social impact of volunteering and it provides an opportunity for members of our community to see the volunteer movement in action and draw their own interest in becoming   an active volunteer participant within their local communities.

Volunteer Support organisations’ gift to the community

1.5 million volunteers in Victoria supported local communities 12.3% care for a person with a disability, 29.5% care for a child other than their own.

In 2006,  $4.9 billion was contributed by volunteers to the Victorian economy

*Duncan Ironmonger report, data from ‘Key stats and Facts’ Volunteering Victoria

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Twelve Days of Volunteering: Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree how lovely are your branches

OC Connections, formerly known as the Oakleigh Centre has been in operation since 1950.
It started with a group of selfless parents who originally formed the organisation with one simple goal in mind: to find something better for their intellectually disabled children than what was being offered in the 1950s.
For many decades, those parents worked tirelessly to grow that goal and volunteered much of their time to take what simply began as 10 children attending an occupational play centre to what the organisation is today — one of Victoria’s leading providers of disability services.

OC Connection’s Vision is: To enable people to live a life they choose within a society that values individuals for who they are, respects their rights and encourages participation in everyday life.

They deliver a range of specialised and innovative support services to enhance the quality of life for people living with disability, and their families. Integral to enhancing lives is the encouragement to achieve maximum independence as active members of the community

Today, OC Connections provides services to more than 500 adults in the areas of employment, residential, recreation and day services.

Donna Wragg, Volunteer Coordinator was attracted to the role because of the strong tradition of volunteering that has been part of the organisation since its inception.

“I firmly believe in the core values of the organisation which are choice, opportunity, respect and equality. You see these values in every aspect of what the organisation does. There is an amazing feeling of warmth that just envelops you when you walk through the front door, from the participant’s artwork hanging on the walls to the cheerful greeting you get from one of our residents who volunteers on reception you just cannot have a bad start to your day.”

At present OC Connections have around seventy volunteers involved in every aspect of the organisation. The volunteers build and nurture relationships with their participants and share a breadth of knowledge and skills. They support the staff and participants during outings and activities, fundraise for and promote the organisation.

The volunteers also contribute to providing governance, they help maintain the organisations grounds, run the Op Shops they are all encompassing within the operations of the organisation.

“Volunteers provide the organisation with the opportunity to develop and deliver services that we otherwise couldn’t. They share their cultures and bring diversity.”

At the moment OC Connections are in the middle of our annual Christmas tree festival.
Since the early 1960s, OC Connections has been selling Christmas trees to raise funds for the people they support. Each year, they source fresh quality trees from a local farm to sell throughout December.

“We also have a Christmas tree shop that offers a beautiful range of cards, decorations and high quality tree stands. This is our biggest fundraiser of the year. The Tree shop is opened from 1pm-6pm Monday to Friday and 8am-6pm Saturday and Sunday.”

The festival is staffed by volunteers and all profits go to the Centre’s programs. The festival is an opportunity for the organisation to provide fundraising and donations. This is heavily relied upon to supplement their services, enabling OC Connections to buy additional items, like specialist equipment, or to fund lifestyle activities, all things that work towards ensuring they can provide not only services that are of the highest possible standards, but that all those that they support have the opportunity to lead active, involved lives with dignity and independence.

Over the four weeks of the festival, around seventy volunteers will unload Christmas trees, help customers buy a tree, bail trees, carry trees to cars, look after the trees by watering them and trimming them, whilst also selling ornaments and cards.

Volunteers are drawn from many different pockets of the community. Some of the volunteers are friends and family of the organisations participants, some got involved because they have always bought their trees from OC Connections and they want to give back to the organisation so that they can continue their valuable work. Some are staff members who give up their free time on the weekends, others corporate volunteers but many come from the local community. All of this equates to about 500 hours of volunteering.

The organisation receives both State and Federal Funding and without this and the volunteers, the work that is done, could not continue.

“Our organisation is passionate about not only engaging volunteers but ensuring that they have a meaningful relationship with us. We believe that every volunteer role should have a clear purpose that not only adds value to the organisation but ensures that the volunteer feels valued.”

“Volunteer’s play a vital role in assisting us to provide a broad range of services and programs. They are an integral link to the community and our organisation is so much richer for the wonderful contribution they make.”

Throughout 2015-2016 volunteers generously gave 10,020 hours of their time (equivalent to the work of just over five full-time employees) to work within the opportunity shops; activity programs; assisting residents in supported accommodation, they strongly supported the organisation during the weekends; at OCI and with fundraising events. The volunteers work one on one with participants, or accompany groups or families to enjoy a break at Tootgarook holiday house or on community outings.

Volunteers gift to the community
10,020 hours of volunteering, $349,597.00* dollar value of twelve months volunteering.
500 plus disabled adults supported in employment, residential, recreation and day services
*hourly rate for volunteer was calculated using the Duncan Ironmonger Report 2016 projection

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Twelve Days of Volunteering: New gathering space brings big benefits

Healesville Indigenous Community Services Association (HICSA) provides a range of vital services to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community in and around Healesville, Victoria.  Its current site, on a long term lease from Yarra Ranges Council, includes a basic shed which has been used previously as a metal workshop and for storage and art related programs.

As part of a wider upgrade of its facilities to improve community infrastructure, HICSA needed to renovate the shed to make it fit for year-round use, and for a wider range of activities.

With funding in place and local builders sourced for the renovation, HICSA approached ICV to find a skilled volunteer who could help scope, plan and supervise the works.

ICV volunteer Noel generously offered his time and experience to HICSA, helping identify the materials required, liaising with council and builders regarding permits, and supervising the renovation.

HICSA is delighted with the results. New reverse cycle air-conditioning was installed for year-round comfort, and a tracking system was installed for hanging art exhibitions in the ample space. Showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art is now raising much-needed revenue for the HICSA and local artists.

HICSA Executive Officer Health Promotion, Anne Jenkins, said the shed would be used for youth activities, including dancing and painting, and as a meeting space.

“Without Noel’s support this project would have taken us much longer to complete.  His expertise in the area was exactly what we needed, and more!”

“We are always in need of assistance from volunteers as it’s what helps keep our organisation running.”


Volunteers gift to the community

Abundance of riches by sharing;

Cultural awareness; showcasing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art

Developing the next generation via youth engagement 

*hourly rate for volunteer was calculated using the Duncan Ironmonger Report 2016 projection

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Twelve Days of Volunteering: Hark the herald Angels sing …Glory to the CBM Volunteers!

CBM International works in 63 countries around the world to transform lives. It was established in 1908 by German pastor Ernst Jakob Christoffel, who built homes for children with disabilities in Turkey and Iran. In low income countries, people living with disability are often unable to access basic rights and services such as education and healthcare, and are often excluded from employment, and social and community activities. CBM seeks to empower people living with disability in the world’s poorest countries, transforming their lives and breaking down the barriers in their homes and communities that stop them from reaching their full potential.

Sue Reid, Volunteer Coordinator – Support Services Team, started as a volunteer in the organisation before landing a paid job in CBM’s donor department . When the opportunity came up to have a change in role she thought it would be great to work with CBMs amazing volunteers. Sue shares the role of Volunteer Coordinator with Elizabeth Churchward and they have been working together for 7 years.

“The thing that attracted me to the role was just to be with people giving their time to volunteer,” she explains.

CBM have approximately eighty volunteers. Sixty volunteers attend the Melbourne office where they do everything from mailing receipts to supporters, collating major donor packs, to data and International Programs work. They help the Australian Disability and Development Consortium (ADDC) where volunteers helped put together a series of videos “Together towards an inclusive world” – a huge project involving a number of volunteers producing the videos and project managing the job.

Twenty of the volunteers are working external to the office performing other support functions. They are regional coordinators for CBM church engagement and they work all over Australia.

There are two projects that Sue and Elizabeth shared with Volunteering Victoria. Miracles Day and the Transcriptions Project.

Miracles Day is the biggest annual phone in campaign to transform the lives of over 25,000 of the world’s poorest men, women and children living with cataract blindness.
There are more than forty volunteers involved in preparing for a six-month lead-up. In total, they spent around 200 hours ensuring that Miracle Day is always a successful event. This includes doing all the catering for the staff and volunteers who spend the day on the phones. In 2016, this project raised enough money to restore the sight of 25,000 people.

The second project is where volunteers transcribe interviews from audio or video footage. The interviews come in from the field, primarily from Africa or Asia. The transcriptions are used in CBM promotional material, often as subtitles in videos. Twelve volunteers have taken about 250 hours so far this year to complete these transcriptions. This is really important work because the people with disability being interviewed helps show the work of CBM and ensures the voices and experiences of people with disability is heard and promoted.

The recipients of CBM are people with disability living in some of the poorest places around the world. CBM’s work supports them to reach their full potential. For example, CMB provide surgeries so people can see or walk again, provides rehabilitation and assistive devices to support people with disability attend school, gain a livelihood and actively participate in their local communities. The result is that people with disability can lead a fuller life and their communities benefit from their talents and contributions.

When asked if volunteers were unable to support the work of CBM Sue provided a quick response.

“Our volunteer program is so strong, with very faithful and committed volunteers. We would all be sad if this was to stop. It would have a financial impact on our organisation. For example, last year, volunteers did 4,750 hours and the equivalent wage cost to CBM would have been over $125,000. It would also put pressure on all departments if they had to do this work themselves. And finally, it would be an enormous social loss to the volunteers. Coming to CBM is a real highlight for them”

“We have one elderly lady who has been coming here for years and it’s had a huge impact on her. She’s so much more positive and confident. We also have a solicitor who, while on materiality leave, was worrying about how she would cope when she got back into the workforce. She ran a major project for us and now has the confidence to look for employment. It’s lovely to see people get their confidence back.”

Funded from a range of sources, including local donors, the Federal Government, and philanthropic contributions. The senior management of our organisation are all incredibly supportive of the volunteer program and very committed to volunteering, which is one of the reasons our program is such a success.

“Our board members are all volunteers themselves. It’s wonderful to see that the ethos of service goes all the way to the top of our organisation.”

2015 volunteers did 4,750 hours.

This provides volunteers with social and administrative skills, while knowing that every hour of volunteering is helping people with disability reach their potential in the poorest places around the world.

Volunteers gift to the community
$165,727.50* dollar value of volunteering, that is 4,750 hours of volunteering
25,000 people with restored vision throughout the world
Endless other support provided to vulnerable and disadvantaged people with disabilities
*hourly rate for volunteer was calculated using the Duncan Ironmonger Report 2016 projection

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