Find out why volunteering is a great way to meet new people, build healthy relationships and make your community a better place to live.
Benefits of volunteering
Volunteering your time willingly is an invaluable contribution of your work skills and life experience. Volunteer support makes a significant difference in many sectors of the community. Without the commitment of volunteers, many local organisations, events and services would cease to function.
Some of the benefits of volunteering are:
- It’s good for your health: Studies show that having a good social network extends your life, keeps you healthy, and staves off mental deterioration
- You meet new friends: Get to know new people and work with them on things you all care about
- You make new contacts: Keeping your networks in good repair helps you to see opportunities when they come up and gives you people to call when you want help
- You learn new skills: You can learn workplace skills from being a volunteer. You can learn governance skills such as committee management and business planning from joining a committee
- It’s good for the community: The more people work together and get to be familiar with the way things work around the area, the more people support each other through the tough times
- You can follow your interests: Whatever you like to do, there are other people out there who like it too. Join a group and you can share your passion
- You can build up your CV: If you’re applying for a tertiary place, or a new job, or a new relationship, it helps to be able to point to the efforts you’re putting in for the community
- You can learn how to win battles: Experience in operating as part of a community group gives you the tools you need to get your voice heard in the centres of power
- You can make a contribution: We all want to make the world a better place, even if it’s only by making sure our team has its turn at taking the flag
- It’s good for the country: Australia needs a strong civil society, where the government and business don’t run everything and people manage their own organisations for community goals.
Become a volunteer
Want to volunteer but don’t know where to start? Volunteer South West provides a volunteer referral service, linking individuals wanting to volunteer with relevant not-for-profit organisations in the South West region. To find out more, visit the Volunteer South West website.
To find out about local groups who may have volunteering opportunities, visit My Community Directory.
Tips to ease your way into a community group
- Follow your heart: Find a cause or a social activity you’re passionate about – one that involves and satisfies you
- Two’s company: Take a friend along. You can support each other, and you’ll have someone to discuss it with while you’re getting to know the scene
- Read the manual: There should be an induction manual, and there certainly ought to be a constitution and some other materials that will help you to get to know the group a little better
- Find a mentor: Ask one of the longer standing members to show you the ropes. Get them to write down people’s names, too (you’ll never remember them all on the first day)
- There are no stupid questions: If you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to say so
- Cut them some slack: Unless you’re joining the Utopia Paradise Club, you’ll find that some people are sometimes irritating. Grin and bear it
- There’s no such person as somebody: When you see something that needs doing, don’t just say “Somebody ought to fix that,” and walk away. Fix it yourself. (But try not to step on toes)
- Look to the long haul: Don’t expect to have everything hunky-dory immediately, and don’t expect people to let you run the place on your first day
- Play to your strengths: You’ve got specialist skills and things you’re particularly good at. Make sure the group knows what they are so that they can put you where you’re most needed
- The first time is the hardest: You don’t have to confine yourself to one community group. Widen your horizons and lend a hand over the road as well.
Volunteer of the Year Awards
The Shire’s Volunteer of the Year Awards seek to recognise the dynamic and vital role that volunteers have in enriching the community across a diverse array of areas spanning the arts, community events, wildlife care, emergency services, sport, environmental causes and so much more.
The awards play a significant role in recognising the invaluable contributions volunteers make to our community.