Hopes on federal budget

VOLUNTEERING Victoria’s eyes are peeled closely for tomorrow’s release of the Federal Budget to see whether its work in Gippsland will continue being funded.

The state’s peak body for volunteering has just appointed a regional community engagement coordinator to assist volunteering networks established in five Gippsland regions.

It aims to support organisations that involve volunteers, to ensure there is a thriving volunteering community across the district.

“When you want to support and encourage volunteers, sometimes supporting and encouraging the volunteer managers is often the first step,” Gippsland community engagement coordinator Rosemary Joiner said.

“To begin with, it’s a networking opportunity for those volunteer managers to get together and identify what their needs are to help them encourage volunteering and engage volunteers.”

Volunteering Victoria senior policy officer Meghan Hopper said volunteers needed to be managed and properly resourced.

“You don’t necessarily turn up on the day and know what you’re doing,” Ms Hopper said.

“You need someone to explain how your role works and (the aspects of) safety and training. That work is undertaken by volunteer support services and organisations.”

She said these Gippsland Volunteer-Involving Organisation Networks would look to support that work, having used a federal grant to allow these to be set up.

But with federal funding to end in December 2016 and an air of uncertainty about a further commonwealth commitment, the organisation says it’s discussing options with the State Government.

Ms Hopper highlighted a $51.2 million budget commitment to the Latrobe Valley to improve health outcomes and suggested volunteering had a role to play.

“Within the Latrobe Valley and within Gippsland we see there as being a lot of opportunities for people to build social networks, but also potentially… to build skills that could benefit them going into the workplace,” Ms Hopper said.

“It (volunteering) really does encompass so many different (benefits) in terms of positive health outcomes and giving back to the community.”

The Gippsland Volunteer-Involving Organisation Networks will be in Latrobe, Baw Baw, South and East Gippsland, as well as Wellington Shire.

Ms Joiner said she would be working closely with organisations large and small to help them attract volunteers.

In the long-term she is hopeful the networks will lead to a central support service that could link aspiring volunteers to suitable organisations and roles.

Any organisation or volunteer manager interested in joining the network of their respective region should contact Rosemary Joiner on 0428 348 250.

For more information about Volunteering Victoria, visit

www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au