Today is my 25th day at Volunteer West, and with COVID and it has been a steep learning curve. I am learning the scope of Volunteer West’s work, the breadth of the community-based organisations in the 6 local government areas of our region, and the diversity of volunteer resource centre’s services in Victoria and across the country.
During this time, we have operated with a skeleton staff and a team of dedicated volunteers to continue providing volunteer referral services. We are at the latter stages of recruitment for two positions; and with new team members soon to be on board, we will be well-placed to lead and play our part in strengthening volunteer participation to build community resilience during and post-COVID times. We will do so by providing online capacity training and social media resources, reconvening our volunteer managers network that is appropriate for COVID-times, engaging with our community members through social media, and connecting with our stakeholders to build collaborative coalitions.
As the only volunteer resource centre in Melbourne’s west, we have been contributing to governments’ reviews of their volunteering strategies. We have been liaising and consulting with our Victorian-based and national-based networks of volunteer support centres to make joint submissions to the Commonwealth’s review of their funding for volunteer management activities; and connecting regularly with the Victorian Government’s Volunteering Unit who is leading the development of Victoria’s new Volunteer Strategy. Recognising the changing trends in volunteering and disruptive force of COVID on communities, we are working with two action-researchers from the National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia to shape an adaptive way forward to ensure volunteering leadership in our region.
Seeing the good news that Australia is flattening the curve against COVID, I am heartened by poet Robert Frost’s words, “it goes on” (and quoted in After Life 2). We are pulling through this together.
Thu-Trang Tran | CEO
27 April 2020