Community Giving in First Nations Communities in Gippsland: Strengths, Barriers, and Opportunities


Date of Publication: November 2022
Author: Jenna Chia, Senior Engagement & Indigenous Programs Officer
Published by: Volunteering Victoria 

This project sought to understand the valuable ways that Indigenous peoples in Gippsland contribute to their communities and support and sustain each other. Through a series of ‘yarn ups’ and reflections, it shows how Indigenous people see community giving as an intrinsic part of living in a community and how this differs to the western concept of formal and organisational volunteering. It suggests implications for policy and practice and learnings that can be applied to support and break down barriers to community giving and volunteering. 

Four key themes were identified across the three yarn ups: 

  1. Practices of community giving.  For example, “jumping in”, “helping out.  
  2. Reasons and motivations for community giving. Most participants felt driven to engage in unpaid activities in response to identified needs or challenges faced by family members, friends, and the broader community. 
  3. The value of community giving. Community giving was identified as a strength of the community in the way it fostered care and support for each other. A shared sense of community resulted in reciprocal community giving and ensured that all community members were supported in times of need. 
  4. Social and systemic barriers to community giving and volunteering. Barriers to community giving were discussed across all three groups and were specific to volunteering in sports clubs, ACCO and non indigenous organisations, and structured activities. Participants discussed the impact of COVID-19 and other barriers such as limited public transport, screening and cost of living.  

Participants broadly described a strong culture of community giving that encompassed a range of activities, from supporting community members on an individual basis to organising community-led initiatives and programs to improve outcomes. All participants acknowledged the barriers to volunteering; however, the focus on barriers (rather than experiences and strengths of community giving) was more dominant for Indigenous people.  

Learnings highlighted need for long term commitment, self-determination, flexibility, collaboration, and appropriate value/remuneration 

The full report is available on the Volunteering Victoria website.