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National Volunteering Advocacy Campaign


Volunteering Australia (VA), with Volunteering Queensland, have been working with other state and national volunteering bodies, including Volunteering Sunshine Coast (VSC), over the past few months on a National Volunteering Advocacy Campaign to raise the importance of at least maintaining Federal Government volunteer funding in the current Budget deliberations for the coming 2018 financial year.

To this end, Volunteering Australia hosted a morning tea at Parliament House in Canberra on 14 February with the intent of encouraging a durable and bipartisan political approach towards the sustainable funding of the volunteer sector, not only for the current Budget negotiations but also for future financial years.

Encouragingly, Senators Louise Pratt and Jacqui Lambie have subsequently gotten a motion passed supporting Volunteering Australia’s National Volunteering Advocacy Campaign, though the future of sector funding will likely continue to be unpredictable.

The transition from the Strengthening Communities activity to the Strong and Resilient Communities grants program on 1 January 2018, means a drop in funding from $32 million in the 2016-17 budget to $18 million under the new program.

This change in funding comes despite the clear economic benefits volunteerism provides the economy. The estimated economic impact on the Sunshine Coast economy was between $162 million to $324 million in 2014, together with $245 million in unpaid wages, compared to the Clean Technology industry’s estimated economic contribution of $214 million on Sunshine Coast Council estimates.

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Understanding Disability


Queensland Women’s Week, held from 6 to 12 March, included more than 140 events and activities across the state, offering something for everyone. Volunteering Sunshine Coast was proud to be present during “Celebrating Ability and Equity” lunch organized by Equity Works on 9 March. The event featured talented women sharing their goals and aspirations for equality. Among the main topics raised throughout the celebration was understanding disability. Whilst challenging, disability is a normal part of the human experience.  Disability is common in Australia, and a normal part of life which contributes to the vibrant diversity of the human experience. Over 4 million people in Australia have some form of disability, and the likelihood of disability increases with age. Understanding what disability is, and how to best accommodate people with disability, is the first and most important step in creating a disability confident workforce.

What is a disability?

There are many different kinds of disability and they can result from accidents, illness or genetic disorders. A disability may affect mobility, ability to learn things, or ability to communicate easily, and some people may have more than one. A disability may be visible or hidden, may be permanent or temporary and may have minimal or substantial impact on a person’s abilities. Although some people are born with disability, many people acquire disability.

Employment and people with disability

Unfortunately a lot more people with disability are unemployed than those without disability. However, of the people with disability who are employed, there is representation across many occupations. Professionals, managers and administrators are the largest occupational grouping and this represents 37% of people with disability in employment. Clerical sales and service workers are the second largest grouping representing approximately 30%, and the remaining occupational categories include tradespersons, production, and transport workers as well as labourers and related workers representing approximately 33% of people with disability in employment.

Disability etiquette

Communicating with a person with disability can seem daunting to some. Some people are concerned that they will embarrass themselves or a person with disability by saying or doing the wrong thing. Though these concerns usually come from a good place, it is entirely unnecessary. The most important thing to remember is to treat each person with respect.

Basic tips:

  • Avoid asking personal questions about someone’s disability.
  • Be considerate of the extra time it might take for a person to do or say something.
  • Be polite and patient when offering assistance, and wait until your offer is accepted. Listen or ask for specific instructions. Be prepared for your offer to be refused.
  • Relax. Anyone can make mistakes. Offer an apology if you feel you’ve caused embarrassment.  Keep a sense of humour and be willing to communicate.


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Giving Australia 2016


“Giving Australia 2016”, launched on 1 December, 2016 by Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs the Hon Zed Seselja, is the largest review of giving and volunteering in Australia. This three year research project will provide benchmark data to inform future policy decisions and encourage more charitable giving.

The research found that:

  • 14.9 million Australians gave $12.5 billion to charities and non-profit organisations over 12 months in 2015-16
  • Planned donors give six times more than spontaneous givers
  • Our Australian volunteers are generous with their time and money. Over 12 months in 2015-16, Australians volunteered 932 millions hours and donated an average of $1,017, which is nearly double the contribution of non-volunteers
  • Corporate philanthropy is thriving – with large business giving $9 billion and small and medium enterprises giving $8.5 billion, totalling $17.5 billion over the previous financial year.

Lead researcher and director of Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies at QUT Associate professor Wendy Scaife says there is an increasing propensity for donors to bypass charities altogether.

“It is both a joy and a trial… having technology that has enabled all of these wonderful ways that people can now give.

“Because this means that we don’t necessarily need the charity as the middleman and there is a real danger for the charities there.

“Of course, smart charities are setting up their own programs and using crowdfunding as another vehicle to raise funds. They are going on as an organisation not an individual. All of that is possible through technology.”

This further highlights the changing landscape of the not-for-profit and charity sector. An online presence is becoming increasingly important for engaging potential donors and volunteers, particularly when it comes to millennials.


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