Shaping Volunteering Victoria’s research and advocacy agenda

May 2013

What was the purpose of the roundtable?

The purpose of the third roundtable was for participants to engage with and shape Volunteering Victoria’s research and advocacy agenda.

Who attended?

A mix of around 20 researchers and practitioners from across Victoria including participants from volunteer resource centres, volunteer involving organisations, universities and the Australian Charities and Not-for- Profits Commission.

What was discussed?

A panel discussion was held with introductory comments from panellists Professor Jeni Warburton (La Trobe University), Mr Martin Thomas (Scouts Australia – Victorian Branch) and Dr Duncan Ironmonger (University of Melbourne) focussing on :

  • are the social benefits of volunteering as (or more) important than the economic benefits?
  • who benefits from volunteering – society in general, individual volunteers and/or anyone else?

There was general discussion between panellists and participants about these issues, including:

  • how to draw attention to the benefits of volunteering:
  • it is horses for courses: tell the government about the dollar value of volunteering but focus on the social benefits when talking to others so it is more meaningful to them. Clients benefit and volunteers feel satisfied but it’s really about the community benefits.  The world would be an ugly place without volunteers and nobody would want to live there.
  • how to quantify the non-economic benefits of volunteering:
  • possible indicators include physical and mental health benefits, community safety, life satisfaction, educational outcomes and employability. Be aware that some benefits might not show up for years.
  • potential dis-benefits of volunteering:
  • it can be exploitative, it can allow the government to avoid its funding responsibility, and sometimes the cultural fit between the volunteer and the organisation is just not right.
  • impact of pressure to volunteer (eg. Centrelink requirements):
  • volunteers may still experience benefits but some may not stay for longer than the required period.
  • pathways to exiting from volunteering:
  • we need financial support for screening/training that is transferable so short-term volunteers to move to another job rather than permanently exit the sector. We also need to support volunteers to exit appropriately if they do not meet our requirements.

 At this third roundtable Volunteering Victoria reported back on its implementation of its Research Framework and asked participants for feedback on its implementation of its priorities to help shape its work.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission announced that it is offering two awards for early career researchers.

Volunteering Victoria circulated its revised Strategic Plan and invited participants to give feedback after the roundtable

Areas for future exploration

The areas for future exploration identified at the November 2012 roundtable (see the November 2012 snapshot document) were discussed at a side meeting for interested participants after the roundtable. It was agreed that Volunteering Victoria and roundtable participants would look for opportunities to pursue the three areas in the context of existing activity in these areas rather than by progressing them through a separately established process.


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