Report from the Chair and CEO
Western Australians have a strong history of getting involved to help others and the community in general. This commitment has never been more evident than over the past year with the devastating Australian bushfires and COVID-19 health pandemic. Such challenging situations often adversely impact the more vulnerable members of our community.
As the peak body for volunteering in WA, we are extremely proud of how our community has responded during these difficult and uncertain times. Volunteering WA has continued to work with community, government, corporate and education organisations, to advance volunteering in order to achieve the greatest impact for our great State.
Annually, the volunteering sector delivers a social, economic and cultural contribution of approximately $39 billion to Western Australia. This contribution has been crucial in enabling us to build strong and resilient communities to face both the known and unknown challenges that come before us.
At Volunteering WA, we judge success on the success of our valued member organisations that now total over 725. With their partnership, we can tackle the community’s greatest challenges and make a difference to so many people.
I was honoured to accept the role as Chair of the Board because I am fully committed to Volunteering WA’s core values of inclusivity, integrity and innovation. The work of our organisation and partners is essential to the recovery of the WA community in the face of COVID-19, and with the passion and commitment of so many Western Australians to volunteering, I am optimistic about the year ahead.
This year has seen the biggest disruption to volunteering in Volunteering WA’s 32-year history as a result of COVID-19. During these unprecedented times, it has been inspirational to see the generosity and kindness of the Western Australian community coming together and supporting people most in need.
COVID-19 changed the volunteering sector overnight, with the majority of Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs) pausing their face-to-face programs. As VIOs adapted to this new environment, Volunteering WA continued to extend our assistance, resources and services to support the sector navigate through the challenges faced.
In response to emergency needs in the community we recruited over 4,000 emergency volunteers to assist VIOs and Local Government Authorities in providing urgent assistance for vulnerable people most at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. This support was extended to deliver a number of essential services within our communities.
The impact of COVID-19 also resulted in the unfortunate cancellation of the National Volunteering Conference 2020. Volunteering WA would like to thank everyone who was involved in the Conference for all their hard work and make special mention of our valued sponsors and business partners.
We thank all our valued corporate members, in particular corporate volunteering partners Woodside and BHP, as well as Shell and Bankwest for their continued organisational commitment to volunteering. It is our privilege to be able to share the significant benefits of corporate volunteering with our member organisations and strengthen the impact they have in our communities.
We also achieved success across our core programs including the delivery of volunteering support services at our Hubs throughout the State, including regional areas such as the Kimberley, Pilbara and Wheatbelt. Our sector support programs such as membership and training go from strength to strength. We thank the State and Federal Governments for supporting these essential services that enable us to grow volunteering in WA.
Our volunteer management database, VIKTOR, continues plays a critical role in the recruitment of volunteers across Australia. We work collaboratively with a number of organisations to provide customised IT solutions with the aim of further developing and upgrading this platform.
This year we enlisted a Senior Policy Advisor to the team, as a dedicated resource to support Volunteering WA, our members and the sector as a whole in strengthening and advancing volunteering. Our voice is stronger than ever, working with policy makers at all levels of government.
Volunteering WA is active in national and state-wide policy initiatives including having a direct voice to Minister for Volunteering, Mick Murray MLA, through the Volunteering Community Reference Group. This involvement is vital in driving our mission and policy discussions.
Our sincere gratitude goes to the Patron of Volunteering WA, Governor Kim Beazley AC, who has been involved in several of our key events and is a passionate champion and advocate for volunteers around our State.
New directors were welcomed to the Board during the year, bringing a wealth of experience and sector knowledge. We farewelled Craig Spencer after a successful 6 years of stewardship as Chair of the Board and welcomed David Morrison to the role. David’s dedication to the volunteering sector and commitment to helping us achieve are strategic goals will be instrumental moving forward.
We are extremely proud of each and every one of our staff and are grateful for their hard work and dedication throughout the year. Without their passion and resilience, the positive results evident in this report would have not been possible.
As we move into the COVID-19 recovery phase, many organisations will face significant challenges. Our immediate priority is to ensure support is provided to these organisations in resuming volunteering programs and mobilising volunteers safely to deliver essential services to the community.
Volunteers are needed now more than ever and our work has never been so crucial.
We are confident that with the ongoing support of our members, partners, Board and volunteers, Volunteering WA is ready for the challenges ahead in 2020-21 and we look forward to continuing our work to lead, advance and celebrate volunteering.