Trends, Issues and Challenges facing Volunteer Managers Report

In February 2014, Volunteering SA&NT organised two days of high level training for Volunteer Managers, Coordinators and Program Managers.

These had originally been planned as two stand-alone days, but participants were encouraged to attend both Fridays; 14th and 28th of February. Each of these days consisted of a mix of panel discussions, guest speakers, workshops, facilitated conversations and shared discussions.

Agnieszka Chudecka, training officer from MAC, was invited to participate as one of four panel speakers on 14th February 2014, to discuss the topic of Trends, Issues and Challenges facing Volunteer Managers.

The aims of the session were to:

  • stimulate discussion around the Trends, Issues and Challenges facing Volunteer Managers;
  • present strategies in dealing with these to further develop the skills of volunteer managers; and
  • enable Volunteer Managers to showcase their work and the work of their organisation.

In her talk, combining theory with various experience based and hands-on examples, Agnieszka aimed to encourage Volunteer Managers to better address the increasing diversity of the community and embrace the participation and contribution of volunteers from CALD backgrounds.

One of the suggested frameworks was the ‘three Rs model’: recognise; reflect; and respond to cultural diversity in the community; workplace; organisation by:

  • Collecting, collating and using demographic profiles; statistics; migration history and patterns; stories and narratives to inform culturally inclusive knowledge, policies and practices;
  • Using communication strategies which are culturally and linguistically responsive, reflective and targeted;
  • Developing and training people (including volunteers) with skills to assist in delivering culturally appropriate services.

To develop cultural competency while working with volunteers from diverse cultural backgrounds, Agnieszka encouraged considering the following ‘four As process’ of:

  • Anticipating knowledge, skills and resources required to meet diversity of volunteers;
  • Acquiring knowledge, skills, competencies and resources;
  • Applying knowledge, skills, competencies and resources;
  • Adjust policies and procedures; programs and activities.

Within the above paradigm, participants were provided a set of continuous improvement ideas for Volunteer Managers to examine and play with, which was looking at ‘three Ps structure’ of:

  • Planning which includes demographic profiles being collected, maintained and in turn inform policies and practices;
  • Processes of communication in place which promotes effective, clear and reliable dialogue;
  • People – developing skills through training and capacity development.

Some of the excellent feedback received by Volunteering SA&NT after the day included: Thank you all so very much for your time, energy and commitment on Friday… You were all brilliant… People really got a lot from the things you had to say… Everyone said they took something away from each of you.