Volunteers have been recognised as an integral part of the mental health workforce by the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. Volunteering Australia welcomes the final report including the recommendation that the Australian Government formally acknowledge the value of the volunteer mental health workforce. Volunteering Australia recommended that the role of volunteering be made explicit and advanced as an integral part of the implementation strategies emerging from the various inquiries.
5.287 The Committee recommends that the Australian Government formally acknowledge the value of the volunteer mental health workforce, with consideration of its role, training, and standards included in the final National Mental Health Workforce Strategy and subsequent implementation plans.Mental Health and Suicide Prevention – Final Report, Page, xxix
The Committee also expressed its thanks to the volunteer mental health workforce and stated that volunteers must be recognised within the structures that underpin the mental health and suicide prevention workforce.
5.284 The Committee expresses its thanks to all those who volunteer their time to help others in times of need, and acknowledges that many who volunteer do so because they have at some point been impacted by mental illness, suicide or other life challenges.
5.285 Volunteers are giving, and in return, they must be recognised not only by the organisation they work for, but also within the structures that underpin the mental health and suicide prevention workforce. This means having volunteers and those who employ them represented on national mental health workforce taskforces, and in the strategies and implementation plans being developed.Mental Health and Suicide Prevention – Final Report, Page 173
Volunteering Australia provided a submission to the Select Committee focused on the following issues:
- The three ways in which volunteering can support mental health and suicide prevention
- A critical gap in the Productivity Commission’s recommendations
- An opportunity in the Victorian Royal Commission’s ‘community collectives’ proposal
Volunteering Australia CEO Mark Pearce was invited to provide evidence to the Select Committee on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention following our submission.
Volunteering Australia’s submission and evidence were quoted throughout the report including:
Crisis support – volunteersMental Health and Suicide Prevention – Final Report, Page 171
5.280 Volunteering Australia called for volunteering and the role of volunteers to be made explicit in the implementation of recommendations coming out of recent reports and strategies, and for the voices of volunteers and organisations utilising volunteers to be at the table:
Volunteering does not just happen. It requires leadership, investment and strategic oversight. The role of volunteering in supporting mental health and suicide prevention needs to be highlighted, supported and be an integral part of the implementation process.218
Volunteering Australia has also provided a submission to the National Mental Health Workforce Strategy highlighting the extensive contributions of volunteers in the sector, and the need to recognise and support volunteer involvement.