New definitions cater for changing face of volunteers
DIGITAL volunteering is in and Work for the Dole is out when it comes to the new definition of volunteering, according to findings released this week by Volunteering Australia.
The new definition follows a 12-month review which included the release of an issues paper, national stakeholder information sessions and an online survey to gauge community views.
Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Volunteering in NSW Gemma Rygate said the previous definition, developed in 1996, only recognised formal volunteering undertaken for non-profit organisations.
The narrow definition did not recognise online volunteering, social entrepreneurship, corporate volunteering, volunteering for institutions like museums, or spontaneous emergency volunteering.
"Programs like Work for the Dole were also blurring the line between what volunteering is and isn't with volunteering organisations being asked to take on job seekers," Ms Rygate said
"The new definition of volunteering in Australia makes clear that volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain."
Volunteers have been a major part of the Grafton Regional Gallery since its establishment in 1988, and for the 85 active volunteers working there this change means their work is recognised by more than the local community.
Lyn Jarman, who has volunteered at the gallery for 10 years, said it was good that the definition had widened.
"Everything has to progress," she said, "It all can't stay stuck in the past."
"I enjoy helping here very much, whether they call me a volunteer or not."
Jude McBean, the director of the Grafton Regional Gallery, agreed that it was time for the word to be modernized.
"Twenty years ago was a very different place," she said, "Technology like computers and smart phones have changed how people volunteer, Ms McBean said.
"So it's great that the meaning of volunteering has been updated to recognise these changes".