Maximising volunteer power

October 25, 2023 BY

City of Mount Gambier creates critical plan for volunteer workforce

City of Mount Gambier has endorsed a Volunteer Management Plan and Policy to maximise the benefit of volunteering for more than 100 people who actively donate their time to council and future volunteers.

Volunteers are identified as workers under the South Australian Work Health & Safety Act (2012) and have the same rights and responsibilities as paid workers.

Council volunteers work at the Library, ReUse Market and Waste Transfer Station, the Riddoch, the Valley Lakes Conservation Park and also support the community events team.

City of Mount Gambier CEO Sarah Philpott said volunteers provide such a valuable contribution to council and the services and programs they support wouldn’t be able to operate at their current capacity without them,” support wouldn’t be able to operate at their current capacity without them,” “We know that volunteering plays a key role in sustaining healthy, resilient communities and contributes significantly to the quality and vibrancy of our community,” Ms Philpott said

In the development of the Volunteer Management Plan, the project team undertook a benchmarking exercise against the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. A volunteer experience survey was also conducted.

“As a result of this work, the plan addresses any gaps and inconsistencies and aims to improve the experience for our volunteers in addition to supporting our community to reach a higher volunteer participation rate,” she said.

An implementation plan will now be developed to roll out the first of the plan’s initiatives.

“Council has already acted to develop and implement position descriptions for volunteers, develop a process for recording volunteer hours and participation and centralise the management of volunteer files and data and ensure volunteers are aware of, and have capacity to report safety incidents and hazards,” Ms Philpott said.

Local women Erin McIntyre and Helen Stratford (pictured above) have volunteered their time at the Mount Gambier Library for nine and 10 years respectively and both say it provides them with a strong sense of personal satisfaction.

“I was retired and looking to do something and my time at the Library has been very rewarding. The people are so nice and I enjoy going down there for the company. I have become quite good friends with some of the other ladies who volunteer,” Mrs McIntyre said.

“I currently volunteer on Thursdays each week for a few hours and I just love it. I love reading and it’s such a friendly place, the staff are terrific and I’ve made some great friends,” Mrs Stratford said.

Richard Radley has been volunteering at the Mount Gambier ReUse Market for the past two years after seeing firsthand how busy the team looked on a market day, so he thought he’d put up his hand to help.

“I’m usually out at the ReUse Market three or four days a week, any maintenance donations might need, I fix them up and get them ready to sell. All they need is a bit of love and care,” Mr Radley said.

“We know that people who volunteer are more likely to take part in other aspects of community life and that communities that harness volunteers are more resilient. We thank our volunteers for all their support and are pleased to have formalised the Volunteer Management Plan and Policy for their benefit,” Ms Philpott said.