Volunteering SA&NT

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Our History

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After starting in a small office in the Adelaide CBD, we now have operations spanning SA and NT. Discover how we’ve grown.

LEADING the way

JOY NOBLE AO (deceased) and MAVIS REYNOLDS OAM founded the volunteer centre of south australia, 1982.

Story

With three name changes, four executive directors, three chief executive officers and countless workforce, the foundation of Volunteering SA&NT has not changed in 40 years. The dedication to support, grow and celebrate volunteering remains at the core of Volunteering SA&NT’s work today.

Changing the perception of volunteer managers from a hobby of predominantly older women to strategic leaders, creative thinkers and change management experts

Forty years on, and the original concept of creating a professional agency matching volunteers to organisations has not changed – although it looks a little different today. 

From a leather-bound handwritten register to a National IT database and local App, WeDo. A name change from ‘Referral Service’ to ‘Volunteer Assist’, and from interviews held in the corridor to online and face to face meetings with a team of passionate volunteers.

Volunteering SA&NT, formerly the Volunteer Centre of SA, was founded on 23 August 1982 by two inspiring women – Mavis Reynolds, a retired teacher and Joy Noble, a retired social worker who sadly passed away in July 2020*.

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing in July 2020 of our passionate and incredible co-founder Joy Noble AM, aged 95. Joy was a powerhouse in the volunteering sector and a truly inspiration woman. We pay tribute to Joy’s life – such a significant one, and her legacy is exceptional.

Joy Beryl Noble AM Obituary

Sharing the same vision, with support from Lange Powell, SACOSS and an accidental meeting at the Citizens Advice Bureau, Joy and Mavis defended the value of volunteering, pushing the boundaries of what a volunteer matching service could be. Along with it, changing the face of volunteers from a hobby for well-off retirees and church goers to anyone with diverse skills and passions, looking to help sustain communities.

With this shift in mindset came the vision ‘to present a global view of volunteering which respond[ed] to the challenges of today’s society.’

History of Volunteering SA

A creative writing course. A miraculous meeting. An unlikely match. The rest is volunteering history. By Jessie Byrne 

A creative writing course

Working with volunteer involving organisations to innovate the volunteering ecosystem and ensuring volunteer programs match organisational strategic directions to better support volunteers

After leading the development of the National Standards, Volunteering SA&NT was inaugural in the successful proof of concept for the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Quality Mark. Further market research is underway with an aim for organisations to have their volunteer program externally assessed.

Although only small, the Volunteer Centre of SA had big ideas and supported other local volunteering organisations across regional South Australia. These included Noarlunga Volunteer Services, Para Districts Volunteer Service and the Whyalla Volunteer Centre. In 1984, these volunteer resource centres came together and were renamed, Northern Volunteering SA and Southern Volunteering SA Inc and Volunteering SA&NT still work closely with these volunteer resource centres today.

To increase volunteering opportunities for diverse Australians (older adults, and people from multicultural backgrounds), and under the guidance of Marjon Martin, Executive Director, the Volunteering is for All (VIFA) program commenced in 1992.

In 1994 the SA Volunteer Centre was incorporated as Volunteering SA Inc.

In 1996, the South Australian School of Volunteer Management was established under the guidance of Louise Rogers and Andy Fryar. Two years later, 17 students graduated from the first ever Diploma of Volunteer Management Course.

Partnering with Volunteering SA in 2004, the Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) was formed, and recognised by the State Government as a key advisory body, to promote Aboriginal volunteering and increase volunteering opportunities.

Highlights of the program included the growth in development of professional volunteer programs in Aboriginal organisations, community leadership training in rural communities, mentor training for Aboriginal participants and the inclusion of young people on the Reference Group. Five social enterprise projects were held in Oodnadatta from 2012-2017 with fifteen young Aboriginal volunteers participating in this best practice, culturally sensitive and respectful engagement program. In 2017 the project was recognised during Adult Learners Week 2017, winning the Adult Learning Community of the Year. 

The ‘world first’, Volunteering Strategy for South Australia was launched in 2014. Currently in its second reiteration, the cross-collaborative partnership between Volunteering SA&NT, the Government of South Australia, Local Government Association and Business SA aims to make volunteering stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable.

An app connecting volunteers to organisations was launched in 2016. The ‘world-first’ WeDo App, supported by the Government of South Australia, provides a quick and easy way for volunteers to find suitable volunteering positions.

Supporting volunteers and organisations, consistently pushing the boundaries to ensure safe and respectful volunteering

As a peak body, VSA&NT represents volunteering through advocacy and policy, leading and participating in discussions on changes, trends and challenges.

Tower of Strength
In July 2017, Volunteering SA&NT joined Volunteering Australia and other state/territory peak bodies to support the Tower of Strength campaign against federal funding cuts to volunteering support services. Supporters of safe, effective and sustainable volunteering signed petitions and the Federal Government backtracked their decision.

Volunteer Screening Checks
After advocating for many years to remove barriers to volunteering, Volunteering SA&NT had a win with the 2018 announcement that the State Government would commit to their election promise and abolish compulsory volunteer screening checks. For organisations, this meant the savings would be put to better use in providing services and resources for the benefit of the community, and for the volunteer, the difference of taking up a volunteer position or not. 

Creating a thriving, inclusive and diverse volunteering culture, increasing opportunities for people to participate in their community through volunteering.

Today, we continue to work towards breaking down barriers to volunteering – to make volunteering more accessible and inclusive for diverse communities. We are engaging with three cohorts that are consistently under-represented, including First Nations People, People with Disability and Newly Arrived Migrants.

Through a range of strategies, we will support and enable volunteer involving organisations, including those in the regions, to build capacity for diversity and inclusion in volunteering.

Partnering with the University of South Australia, Volunteering SA&NT delivered the first-of-its-kind higher education program for volunteer management in recognition of engaging professional volunteer managers, a crucial element to the success of all volunteer programs.

Northern Territory

Volunteering Northern Territory was first established in 1992 with Commonwealth funds provided to the NT to create a peak body for volunteering. In 2003, funds were transferred to Volunteering Australia, and in 2006 it was proposed that Volunteering NT be incorporated into Volunteering SA based on their successful full-service model.

On 11 November 2007, Volunteering SA&NT Inc was launched with the NT office a shopfront in Darwin, staffed by a single part-time officer.

Volunteering NT, a division of Volunteering SA&NT was rebranded on 5 December 2016 (International Volunteers Day) at a reception hosted by the Right Worshipful, The Lord Mayor of Darwin, Ms Katrina Fong Lim. The event bought together government, local community organisations and volunteers and the 2016-2019 Strategic Directions was released.

The following year, Volunteering NT celebrated its 10th anniversary with the announcement of the inaugural Patron of Volunteering NT, Her Honour the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO, Administrator of the Northern Territory. Another key event was the partnership with Parrtjima Light Festival and the management of 50 volunteers over the 10 day festival.

Volunteering NT has achieved a quality reputation throughout Northern Territory communities and works closely with the NT government, emergency services and organisations.

With a strong presence at expos, events and career days, Volunteering NT took over the sole management of the NT Volunteer of the Year Awards in 2009 after jointly managing them with the Northern Territory Government.

These prestigious Awards, currently in their 14th year, recognise and celebrate the achievements of volunteers across the Territory with award ceremonies announcing the winners held in Darwin and Alice Springs. 

National Volunteer Week, held annually in the first week of May is significant for both South Australia and the Northern Territory. In Adelaide, the week is launched with a Volunteer Parade (the only one in Australia) in the CBD, with 2022 marking its 10th anniversary. It is a highlight on the week-long calendar of events, and complements the many other community events held around the State.

With the street parade cancelled during the pandemic, the ‘Colour Your Community Red’ campaign was initiated by where everyone was encouraged to tie something red outside their home, office or school to celebrate, and say thank you volunteers, and to post photos to social media.

In the Northern Territory, garden parties are held with strong support and attendance from volunteers and their organisations.

Very Territory volunteering

This year, Volunteering SA&NT is proud to have assisted more than 17,000 volunteers – either online, through the WeDo App, via websites or in person at their offices.

We announced Ali Clarke, South Australian radio personality, as the inaugural Volunteering SA&NT Ambassador.

The times have changed, with the volunteering ecosystem facing many challenges, none more than the COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years. We continue to grow with the times and come out stronger to ensure volunteers, volunteer managers and organisations remain at the forefront of all we do.

In closing, we remain committed to enriching lives and connecting communities through volunteering.

We look forward to working in the vast volunteering ecosystem and to support grow and celebrate volunteering. 

Gallery

Commemorative Video - 35 Year History

We’ve transformed volunteering from a hobby into an industry

We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in around 4 decades. Volunteering SA&NT has not only built volunteering into a valuable resource that benefits diverse communities. We’ve changed the public perception of volunteering from well-meaning ‘good Samaritans’, to an industry led by strategic leaders, creative thinkers and change-makers.

Along the way, we’ve had three name changes, four executive directors, three chief executive officers and an ever-changing workforce. What hasn’t changed is our dedication to support, grow and celebrate volunteering. Across 40 years of growth, we’ve stuck steadfastly to the original concept of creating a professional agency matching volunteers to organisations – although it looks a little different today.

It’s hard to believe that our database was once a leather-bound handwritten register. 

Our name has changed from ‘Referral Service’ to ‘Volunteering ASSIST’. Interviews were once held in corridors – today online and face to face meetings are conducted with a team of passionate volunteers.

Volunteering SA&NT, formerly the Volunteer Centre of SA, was founded on 23 August 1982 by two inspiring women – Mavis Reynolds, a retired teacher and Joy Noble, a retired social worker who sadly passed away in July 2020*.

Sharing the same vision, with support from Lange Powell, SACOSS and an accidental meeting at the Citizens Advice Bureau, Joy and Mavis strengthened the concept of volunteering, pushing the boundaries of what a volunteer matching service could be. Along with it, volunteering evolved from a hobby for the well-intentioned to anyone with diverse skills and passions looking to help sustain communities.

With this shift in mindset came the vision ‘to present a global view of volunteering which met the challenges of today’s society.’

After leading the development of the National Standards, Volunteering SA&NT pioneered the successful proof of concept for the ‘National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Quality Mark’. Further market research is underway with an aim for organisations to have their volunteer program externally assessed.

From small beginnings, the Volunteer Centre of SA had big ideas and supported other local volunteering organisations across regional South Australia. These included Noarlunga Volunteer Services, Para Districts Volunteer Service and the Whyalla Volunteer Centre. In 1984, these volunteer resource centres came together and were renamed, Northern Volunteering SA and Southern Volunteering SA Inc and Volunteering SA&NT still work closely with these volunteer resource centres today.

To increase volunteering opportunities for diverse Australians (older adults, and people from multicultural backgrounds), and under the guidance of Marjon Martin, Executive Director, the Volunteering is for All (VIFA) program commenced in 1992.

In 1994 the SA Volunteer Centre was incorporated as Volunteering SA Inc.

In 1996, the South Australian School of Volunteer Management was established under the guidance of Louise Rogers and Andy Fryar. Two years later, 17 students graduated from the first ever Diploma of Volunteer Management Course.

Partnering with Volunteering SA in 2004, the Aboriginal Reference Group (ARG) was formed, and recognised by the State Government as a key advisory body, to promote Aboriginal volunteering and increase volunteering opportunities.

The ‘world first’, Volunteering Strategy for South Australia was launched in 2014. Currently in its second reiteration, the cross-collaborative partnership between Volunteering SA&NT, the Government of South Australia, Local Government Association and Business SA aims to make volunteering stronger, more inclusive and more sustainable.

A smart phone App connecting volunteers to organisations was launched in 2016. The ‘world-first’ WeDo App, supported by the Government of South Australia, provides a quick and easy way for volunteers to find suitable volunteering positions.