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From the CEO

2014 is coming to a close and I would like to extend my sincerest best wishes to all for the coming festive season.  I hope you all travel safely and share some wonderful times with loved ones. 

I take this opportunity to thank all of our Members and supporters for a wonderful year. I have enjoyed working with you all and look forward to 2015.



2014 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award Ceremony

Meet the winner of this year's award David Abrahams pictured with Gemma Rygate, The Hon. Victor Dominello, MP and Anne Fitzgerald, Clubs NSW.

View the Prime Minister's message to our volunteer finalists and winners.


And the winners are.....

2014 NSW Student Volunteer of the Year is Christopher Evans

2014 NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year is Emily Smith

2014 NSW Adult Volunteer of the Year is Karen Lindley

2014 NSW Senior Volunteer of the Year is David Abrahams

2014 NSW Volunteer Team of the Year are the Broken Hill Women’s Auxiliary

2014 Excellence in Volunteer Management Award NSW is the SPARK team from St Vincent de Paul Society

2014 NSW Corporate Individual Volunteer of the Year is Kate Boyle, National Australia Bank (MLC)

2014 NSW Corporate Team Volunteer of the Year is the Tradies’ Volunteer Team

Membership Survey- what you told us

by Wendy Chin, Manager: Member Services

Thanks to everyone who completed our membership survey in October.  It was so valuable for our staff to better understand which services and benefits you value, what improvements you would like and the ideas you have.

Based on your feedback, we are looking at how we can improve on our strengths and better meet your needs in 2015.

Some of the key findings of our survey are:

  • 75% of members responded to the survey
  • 75% of respondents said they were very satisfied or satisfied with their current membership

Our respondents said they use the following member services:

  • 68% - Volunteer Referral Service
  • 46% - Information from our websites
  • 34% - Skilled Volunteering Alert
  • 31% - Networking meetings,
  • 31% - Ignite conference
  • 31% - Advice and information
  • 23% - Corporate Volunteering
  • 18% - The School of Volunteer Management

Some important feedback was that many of you didn’t realise the breadth of the membership services and benefits offered. We are taking this on board to ensure we communicate with you more effectively so you have the opportunity to get maximum benefit and value from your membership. 

When we asked members which services they are most interested in receiving from the Centre, this is how you responded (top responses only):

1. Access to research and trends - 73.0%
2. Recognition resources for volunteers - 63.5%
3. Advice on industry developments - 60.8%
4. Benefits arising from partnerships -  58%
5. Networking events - 57%
6. Access to Skilled Volunteer Alerts- 54%
7. Discounts from the School of Volunteer Management - 53%
8. Volunteer Referral Service priority - 53%

You also said the main issues facing your organisation in 2015 that you would like the Centre's advocacy on include:

  • The impact of the changing funding landscape
  • Issues related to volunteer recruitment, training, management, engagement, recognition and retention.
  • The impact of the ageing workforce and volunteers, CALD communities and government programs such as work for the dole scheme.
  • Increased demands and expectations of the corporate volunteering sector including skilled volunteering opportunities.
  • Work for the Dole

Based on your feedback about networking events (which are very popular), we will make the following changes to these events in in 2015:

  • Varying the day and times of the events to give people opportunity to attend
  • Holding a couple of the networking events in other locations
  • Allowing more time for networking and facilitating where necessary
  • Varying the topics to encapsulate the breadth of volunteer management experience and expertise

This is just some of your feedback, however all of it has been evaluated and we are reviewing our membership offering in line with the results of the survey. We are looking forward to a refreshed offering in the new membership year.

If you would like more details about the findings of the survey or more information on membership, please feel free to contact the membership team on membership@volunteering.com.au.

A Youth Volunteer perspective

Thank you Emily and Genevieve, two lovely young people who volunteered with us, for all their great work, skills, energy, creativity and honesty.  The following article shares their insights and feedback on volunteering.

Article by Genevieve and Emily - youth volunteers

As far as I was concerned only a short time ago, volunteering meant multiple fundraisers and irritating doorknockers that always seemed to be after the same thing (“Even small donation can make a huge impact…”).

To me, and to my classmates, volunteering was an idea and a practice that was reserved for a group that seemed separated from us; an unconnected universe hidden in our own community.

Volunteering was, in short, on my television but not on my mind – it seemed to play out in the media but never appeared in my path. And I suspect that is why today's youth demographic is viewed as lazy, unmoved by hardship and only motivated to act when they benefit.

Maybe, in actual fact, my generation isn’t so much apathetic as we are unaware. Of course, there are always going to be those who turn a blind eye to the hardship of others, but I cannot possibly believe that there are not others in my generation like myself, who have always wanted to make a positive change, but diodn't know how it could be done.

I know that over my placement here at The Centre, I have begun to realise that there is in fact a wider community around volunteering, that is far broader than the people tendingthe sausage sizzles at the netball club or in the Bunnings car park. I’ve discovered an overwhelming sensation of support for those who cater to the needs of others, a welcoming and loving community that is dedicated to helping those who need it, and encouraging others to do the same.

The placement revealed to me a new side to volunteering; something a whole lot deeper than doing something to enhance the look of their resume or university application. I’m not going to pretend that I knew about the Volunteer of the Year Awards until I started here, and I’m not going to act like I have always been eager to learn more about all the different aspects of volunteering until recently, but it is with all honesty that I say that from my reading of the work of the nominees and the benefits it has had for their communities, I have never seen a group of people who deserve recognition more.

Now to this, some might say: “But if you think it’s so great, why aren’t other young people interested?” and that question still remains applicable regardless of what I have just said. However, I think the answer to that question can be summarised into just a few words: lack of exposure.

Throughout my week here I’ve oftentimes found myself wondering questions along the lines of “How did I not know about this?” or “How is this not a big deal?” and for every one of those questions, I’ve been able to tie the answer back to a lack of exposure.

At the end of all things, I’ve found that young people seem to not be volunteering purely because they don’t know how or where to look. That was certainly the case with me, and I trust that my generation is not filled purely with mindless, apathetic drones. I honestly believe that all we need is guidance, to be exposed to the endless possibilities we have to aid the communities we live in.

In this era of technological advancement it is as crucial as ever that young people are aware of their opportunities, conscious of the benefits, and are provided with as many opportunities as possible to volunteer. If this isn’t done, who else will carry on the example that has been set by legions of volunteers before them? If we never know just how important volunteering is; how extensive it is and how deeply it runs in the veins of our society, how will it continue to do so?

To shamelessly quote Emma Watson, because “If not now, when? If not [us], who?”

Christmas Closure Dates:

The Centre for Volunteering will be closed from Monday 22 December 2014 and will re-open Monday 12 January 2015.

The Volunteer Referral Service will close on Wednesday 17 December 2014 and will re-open on Monday 12 January 2015.  All members who have current volunteers roles should note that these positions will continue to be advertised on GoVolunteer and Seek over the Christmas period and those expressing interest we be notified that The Centre will respond to their emails when we re-open in January. 

If this arrangement is not suitable, please contact Avril Samuels, Manager Volunteer Referral Service, on 9261 3600 Monday – Wednesday or email asamuels@volunteering.com.au to make alternate arrangements for your volunteer roles.

U and the USI

Lifelong learning is important as it can maximise our potential to find better, more satisfying jobs, earn more and, perhaps, become more successful in our chosen career.  While there are many ways to further our knowledge and develop our skills, formal education like vocational courses and the resulting qualification are an excellent option.  So once you have obtained all these impressive qualifications how do you create a single, easily authenticated record?  Well, by obtaining your Unique Student Identifier (USI).

What is a Unique Student Identifier (USI)?

The USI is effectively a reference number made up of numbers and letters that will help keep your training records and results together in an online account controlled by you.  The USI will stay with you for life and each time you enrol to study with a training organisation, your USI will be used to store your training records and results.

This means you will be able to access your training records, transcripts and results whenever you need them.   So you will no longer need to get creative with course dates when updating your resume or find someone to authenticate copies of your certificates, as your USI account is easily accessible online from your computer, tablet or smart phone.

To help explain the USI the Department of Industries has put together a short video and a fact sheet.

Do I need a USI?

Yes, as of the 1 January 2015 all students completing nationally recognised training will need to have a USI before they can receive a training record or qualification.

There is also the personal benefit that the USI will allow you to have easier and more reliable online access to your record of training history. You will also be able to produce a comprehensive transcript of your training. This can be used when applying for a job, seeking a credit transfer or demonstrating pre-requisites when undertaking further training. You can either print a copy of your qualifications from your USI account or allow an organisation temporary access to your results.

How to get a USI

It's free and easy to create your own USI online and will only take a few minutes.  You will need to have at least one form of valid Australian ID ready.  If you would like more detailed inform visit the steps to create your USI. If you are having problems visit the USI help centre or contact your training organisation for assistance.

The USI Registry System is now live, so once you have created your USI  get in touch with your training organisation and let them know.  If you are considering studying with the School of Volunteer Management in 2015 call us  02 9261 3600 and we can help you.

Maxed Out

The Max Potential Penrith Showcase may have been last, but it was certainly wasn’t least.  On 3 November, 22 young adults from the Penrith area took over the whole function floor of Penrith RSL to exhibit their community service projects. 

The afternoon also included a charismatic puppet show and an amazing vocal performance from Bethany Hidalgo who performed “Not Alone”, a song that she has written about the pain caused by school bullying.

What are the Showcases for?  The Showcases represents the end of 22 weeks of effort put in by the young adults to develop their leadership and improve their local community by running a volunteer project.  It was also an opportunity for the young adults to meet a representative from the School of Volunteer Management and submit their Certificate I in Active Volunteering logbooks. 

What has been particularly special about all the showcases is hearing the amazing journey these young adults have been on since joining this program.  This is evident in the effort they put into their exhibits, the passion with which they talk about their project and the appreciation they have for their coaches. 
The coaching is an integral part of the program. 

The young adults are paired with a local community leader who mentors them in communication, project management and leadership.  While the objective is for the young adult to learn from the coaches’ experience, many of the coaches have expressed how much they have learned from the young adults.  

Andrew Mellor a coach and the project manager for the Penrith group said one of his highlights was “seeing the young adults struggle initially with being empowered to make their own decisions, but eventually discovering just how much they are capable of and what difference they can make in the community." 

So after 5 months, 329 community projects and 19 Showcases the Max Potential Program is drawing to a finish for 2014.  If you are interested in participating in the 2015 program please visit www.max-potential.com.au or if you would like to know more about the Certificate I in Active Volunteering visit www.svm.edu.au  or contact the School for Volunteer Management on 02 9261 3600.

Graduation ceremony

On the 5 November, we had a formal graduation ceremony for the granduands of the recent funded program for a Statement of Attainment from the Certificate IV in Volunteer Program Coordination. 60 places were offered (30 in Blacktown and 30 in Lakemba) to those currently working in the sector to update and upgrade their skills to the benchmark qualification.

The 4-unit program included recruitment and coordination of volunteers, working with effective teams, work health and safety and managing conflict. The trainers were Cecily Michaels, Deb Helmrich and Ann Adams.

The graduation was centred around a professional development day through the Department of Communities, Tri-Comm Community Exchange, STARS, and certificates were handed out to excited participants by The Centre’s CEO, Gemma Rygate.

The training was funded by the NSW Department of Education and Communities. Pictured are three of the many recipients on the day getting their certificate. Congratulations.


We love to hear your feedback, volunteering stories and ideas to help us improve The Voice.

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