Exploring the state of volunteering and how it impacts the prosperity and resilience of communities, this study consulted more than 400 stakeholders throughout the Wimmera region in Western Victoria.
To understand the changing dynamics of volunteerism in the Wimmera, Wimmera Volunteers and Net Balance Foundation conducted this study to explore the role and social value of volunteering.
Volunteering delivers essential services to those in need. It reduces costs to organisations and government who would otherwise be restricted in the delivery of these services. It creates enormous social value by building stronger, more resilient communities. These dynamics exist in communities which are changing. In the Wimmera, there is an ageing population, shifting population densities, immigration, and numerous other factors result in the changing face of rural communities. However, many of the organisations which support volunteering are not changing as fast as the communities they serve, as evidenced by declining and ageing memberships, ageing volunteer base and under-developed succession plans.
To understand the changing dynamics of volunteerism in the Wimmera, Wimmera Volunteers and Net Balance Foundation conducted this study to explore the role and social value of volunteering. It examines the trends and characteristics of volunteerism, and barriers that prevent the community from volunteering or volunteering more. As part of the study, a set of emerging solutions were developed which have implications for Wimmera Volunteers and government. The emerging solutions support Wimmera Volunteers in strategic planning and provide feedback to government regarding the specific needs and priorities of volunteerism in the Wimmera.
The study area included Horsham Rural City Council, West Wimmera Shire, Hindmarsh Shire and Yarriambiack Shire. Research activities were also conducted in Ballarat and Stawell.
The study involved a combination of quantitative and qualitative research methods including:
- A literature review
- Surveys of volunteers and non-volunteers and volunteer organisations
- Consultation interviews with representatives from volunteer organisations, volunteers and government departments
- Focus groups with volunteers and organisations
- Participation in community events u Presentations to community groups
Over 500 people participated in the study, ensuring it represented the diverse views held across the region.
Authors: Suzi Young, Ross Wyatt, Astrid Edwards and Samantha Eyre