By Leesa Riley, Parks Victoria Statewide Volunteer Coordinator
Over the past two years Parks Victoria has been reviewing our approach to volunteering and the way in which we support our many volunteer partners. Volunteering is extremely important to Parks Victoria with volunteers contributing more than 225,000 volunteer hours to park management each year.
We also know volunteers, staff and the community benefit through skill building, exercise, social connections and improvements to physical and mental health, aligned with our Healthy Parks Healthy People approach to park management.
Parks Victoria is committed to a future that both supports our existing volunteers and seeks to build opportunities to reinvigorate, grow and diversify volunteering experiences that are innovative and inclusive.
Parks Victoria aims to establish a world class approach to working with volunteers that is embedded within our core business and effectively engages and supports volunteers in safe, innovative and meaningful activities to improve the health of parks, the broader community and volunteers themselves.
Parks Victoria’s renewed commitment has been communicated in the ‘Volunteering in Parks’ Vision for the Future which was released in May 2017.
This summary identifies our seven commitments to encourage volunteerism in parks and improve volunteer management and support including;
- Parks Victoria is a Volunteer Management Agency.
- Safety of our volunteers and staff is our highest priority.
- Strengthen, extend and expand our current volunteer opportunities.
- Grow and diversify our volunteer population.
- Improve the governance and structure of volunteering to mitigate risks and enhance safety in addition to aligning to the National Standards of Volunteering.
- Create an enabling environment for volunteers, partners and community to engage.
- Promote staff and volunteer professionalism through development of skills and capacity building.
The strength of existing volunteer partnerships and networks cannot be understated. Enhancing these relationships with transparent governance, capacity building and promoting leadership will create more opportunities and provide support. Our commitments will serve as a platform for further discussions to engage and strengthen relationships with our volunteer partners.
An exciting new initiative that Parks Victoria is currently working on with volunteer groups and partners is ParkConnect. ParkConnect is an important step in implementing the “Volunteering in Parks” Vision for the Future through the modernisation of our volunteer management practices.
ParkConnect, an online interactive volunteer management system, has been developed to support and grow volunteerism.
Parks Victoria and volunteer groups will be able to promote opportunities to the wider community through an online volunteer webpage, www.parkconnect.vic.gov.au; enhancing and diversifying volunteer numbers, strengthening group recruitment and retention, aiding in volunteer succession and providing results to celebrate and recognise successes.
The public can look for volunteer opportunities that match their interests or locations, join an activity or group, and manage their personal details including skills and accreditations.
The Parks Victoria team are currently training volunteer group representatives in the use of ParkConnect.
- If you would like further information on “Volunteering in Parks” Vision for the Future or to sign up for a training session please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Parks Victoria website or phone the information centre on 13 1963.