Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published March 31st 2013
Make use of your time and become a volunteer
It's often said that Australians are a generous lot, that per capita we donate more money to charities than most other nationalities. Yet there is another way to donate which can be just as beneficial to the charity and more rewarding to the donor, and that is to become a volunteer.
There are more options of places where you can volunteer your services than you might at first think. There are obvious charities like World Vision, UNICEF and The Royal Children's Hospital, all very worthy causes that depend on the generosity of volunteers. The roles are also more diverse than you might imagine - it's not just answering phones, collecting donations and raising awareness in shopping malls. These organisations require people to help with anything from training, legal work, accountancy and marketing.
The Asylum Seekers Resource Centre receives no government support and relies purely on donations and the work of a dedicated team of volunteers to provide assistance and defend the human rights of refugees and help them to assimilate into Australian society. And Switchboard is a volunteer run organisation that offers a telephone counselling and referral service to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex community
While all these organisations (and many more) provide valuable assistance to various community sectors, there are other not for profit organisations that provide services that don't easily fall into the category of charities. Community radio, for example, is something most of us enjoy from time to time but a relatively small percentage of us actually pay for it. Stations as diverse as 3RRR, PBS, JOY and 3MBS all rely on volunteers in administrative and operational roles. For the volunteers, it's also a chance to learn valuable skills. Who wouldn't love the chance at being trained to be a radio presenter?
There's no reason why the gift of giving should be the only benefit you get out of volunteering, it could be an important stepping stone in your career, or the chance to just generally improve your skill set.
Certain industries are hard to get into, such as film and television, so if this is your passion, why not start out by volunteering on a film production crew or at a community television station.
Voluntary work is also the chance to get yourself out there and improve your social life by being around like-minded people, whether it be in a nursing home, a wildlife sanctuary or assisting a political candidate.
If you really believe in something, you have the chance to do something about it. You can do your bit to leave the world in a better place than you found it. We are, after all, living in the lucky country. We have a lot to be thankful for and most of us can probably spare to give a little bit back to the universe.
The Volunteer Victoria Guide has a list of some places where you may like to contribute your time, but there are many others. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.
Yarra Ranges Council have a web service called Volunteer Xchange. You can register your interests or if you are a volunteer organsation- register the projects you have for volunteers. Hopefully then you will find a match. go towww.yarrarangeslearning.net.au and click on Volunteer Xchange