Don’t forget to thank your volunteers next week for National Volunteer Week 2021
From the families who give up their Saturday once a year to play Father Christmas through to the parents who serve on committees of management, a large number of early childhood education and care (ECEC) services simply couldn’t do without their teams of volunteers.
Next week, from Monday 17 May through to Sunday 23 May, volunteers from around Australia will be recognised and celebrated for the invaluable service they provide to their community as part of National Volunteer Week (NVW), Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteers.
Almost six million Australians volunteer their time, allocating over 600 million hours to help others. In 2021, the NVW theme aims to encourage all Australians to Recognise, Reconnect, and Reimagine all things volunteering.
- RECOGNISE, celebrate and thank volunteers for the vital role they play in our lives.
Amidst the pandemic, while many of us stayed home, volunteers continued to deliver essential services, organise food packages and offer care, comfort and more to support the well-being of Australians. Volunteers make our communities stronger, especially during times of need, crisis or isolation.
- RECONNECT to what is important by giving our time to help others and ourselves.
In a year when many of us have experienced increased loneliness or isolation, mental health or financial stress, volunteering can help. Evidence shows that volunteering connects us to others in our local communities, to better mental well-being or to potential pathways to employment. When we help others in our community or give our time to a cause we value, we also give back to ourselves.
- REIMAGINE how we better support volunteers and communities they help.
Since 2014, Australia has seen a 20 per cent decline in the number of hours volunteers give. During COVID-19, two-thirds of volunteers stopped working and a recent study highlights that social purpose organisations continue to lose one in four volunteers due to illness or caring responsibilities.
In the current changing environment, where Australians are time-poor and experiencing higher degrees of uncertainty and stress, we need to reimagine how we do things. We need to collaborate more and adapt our volunteering practices and programs so we can better support and engage volunteers to continue the necessary work that they do.