Volunteering Australia has recently contributed evidence on the role of volunteers in the disability services workforce in submissions to the NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021-2025 and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.
The NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021-2025
Volunteering Australia’s submission to the NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021-2025 highlights the importance of including volunteer-supported programs in the initiatives outlined in the Workforce Plan.
Volunteers make a unique contribution to disability services, facilitating a degree of social connection and cultural inclusion that paid workers alone cannot. They are a distinct, but essential, component of the disability services landscape, and must be considered as part of a comprehensive workforce strategy. The current Workforce Plan makes no reference to volunteers working in disability services.
We have recommended that the NDIS National Workforce Plan:
- Consider volunteers in efforts to attract and retain staff in disability care and support.
- Include volunteering as a means of improving perceptions of disability care and support work.
- Consider volunteers in the proposed re-evaluation of administrative requirements under the NDIS.
The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability
Volunteering Australia’s submission to the Royal Commission addresses the role of volunteers in the disability services workforce. Volunteering creates opportunities, facilitates social inclusion, brings unique value to services, and connects people to their communities. In the face of ongoing challenges, the value of volunteers and volunteer-supported services in the disability services sector must be acknowledged, celebrated, and safeguarded.
To promote more robust disability workforce planning, which considers and safeguards the unique contributions of volunteers, we have recommended the Royal Commission:
- Commission a Disability Services Workforce Census which collects data on volunteering in the sector.
- Reconsider the funding model and administrative requirements for volunteer involving organisations under the NDIS.
- Include volunteers in ongoing workforce planning for the disability services sector.
- Commission research on the contribution of volunteering to program outcomes in disability services.
A lack of clear data on volunteering in the sector, complications surrounding the resourcing of volunteer-supported programs, and the ongoing challenges of COVID-19 necessitate more comprehensive national planning for volunteering in disability services. Ongoing work in the disability services sector must acknowledge and plan to support the involvement of volunteers, with the aim to preserve their unique contribution to the lives of people with disability.