Volunteering Australia has been advocating for further investment in volunteering to be included in the upcoming 2022-23 Australian Government Budget. Governments have a distinct and vital role in providing strategic leadership and investing in initiatives and infrastructure that will enable volunteering to thrive.
Volunteers are the often-invisible workforce that supports the nation every day and through challenging times. But volunteering is struggling; because of the ongoing impact of COVID-19 and longer-term trends which are seeing formal volunteering rates in decline.
We need to reinvigorate volunteering for the nation’s ongoing social and economic recovery and consider what we may need to do differently to ensure volunteering strategy and investment keeps pace with changing circumstances and remains sustainable for years to come.
The 2022-23 Federal Budget should invest in:
1. A Volunteering COVID-19 Recovery Plan. This plan would enable volunteers to re-engage safely, support the adaptation of volunteering programs, and facilitate the recruitment of new volunteers to ensure services and programs can recover.
2. A Volunteering Futures Program. This program would facilitate the future adaptation of volunteering and support the strategic priorities identified in the new National Strategy for Volunteering currently under development.
3. A National Youth Volunteering Initiative. Young people have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. This initiative could mitigate against poor mental health outcomes for unemployed young people and support pathways to paid employment.
4. A nationally co-ordinated approach to volunteer engagement in emergencies. As the frequency and scale of emergencies in Australia increases, a nationally co-ordinated approach will help to mobilise volunteers rapidly, safely, and effectively.
5. Investment in the Aged Care volunteer workforce. Funding should be allocated for the Aged Care Royal Commission’s volunteering recommendations in Budget 2022-23 and into the forward estimates.