Presenting the New National Strategy for Volunteering

Following a rigorous and inspiring 12-month co-design journey Australia has a new shared agenda for a reimagined future for volunteering. The National Strategy for Volunteering, co-created by stakeholders from across the volunteering ecosystem, provides a blueprint for the next ten years that will enable volunteering in Australia to thrive.

“The National Strategy for Volunteering was designed and will be owned by all of us. It presents our collective vision for a future where volunteering is at the heart of Australian communities.”

Thousands of stakeholders participated in online consultations, interviews, participatory design workshops, working groups, surveys, and a bespoke research project to build the National Strategy for Volunteering. The culmination of this process identified a unifying vision, three focus areas and aims, and eleven strategic objectives.

The National Strategy for Volunteering was funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services, led by Volunteering Australia, and co-designed by the entire volunteering ecosystem.

“Together, we imagined a powerful future for volunteering. Now we need to work together to make that future a reality.”

Exploring the National Strategy for Volunteering

On Wednesday 5 April almost 300 people attended a webinar hosted by Volunteering Australia, Exploring the National Strategy for Volunteering. After the launch of Australia’s first National Strategy for Volunteering in a decade, the webinar explored the National Strategy in more detail. Including:

  • The Vision
  • The Aims
  • The Strategic Objectives
  • How you can use the National Strategy in your work
  • What’s next?

The presentation was followed by Q&A.

If you were unable to attend, you can access the presentation slides and event recording below.

Draft National Strategy for Volunteering

After extensive engagement with the volunteering ecosystem through our co-design journey we are delighted to present the Draft National Strategy for Volunteering. The Draft National Strategy was developed using the feedback from our Discovery Phase, the ideas from our Visioning Workshops, and the evidence from our Volunteering in Australia Research and Volunteering Research Papers.

The Draft National Strategy for Volunteering has a Vision, three Focus Areas underpinned by three Strategic Objectives, and eleven ‘Systemic Shifts’. The Vision, Focus Areas, and Strategic Objectives are where we want to be by 2033 and the Systemic Shifts are how we will get there.

The survey is now closed and we thank everyone who provided feedback on the Draft National Strategy for Volunteering.

*The Draft National Strategy for Volunteering was amended on 21 November to provide greater clarity in two areas based on early feedback.

Discovery Insights Report

The Discovery Insights Report summarises the conversations we had with the Volunteering Ecosystem from April to July. It includes 12 insights, which speak to the broad themes of what we heard and ideas from stakeholders about how some of the systemic challenges facing volunteering could be solved.

The findings in the report formed the basis for the ‘seeds of change’ we explored in our participatory design workshops during October as we co-designed a collective vision for the National Strategy for Volunteering.

Co-Design Process Overview

Our co-design process will happen in four key stages: 

  1. Discovery
  2. Visioning
  3. Build
  4. Test and Refine

The Discovery Phase will take place from April through June. This stage is all about building up the evidence base needed to construct the National Strategy for Volunteering. The Discovery Phase will take a ‘mixed methods’ approach and we’ll be engaging in diverse ways, including: 

  • Open engagements, which are free for anyone to attend and share their views 
  • Focus groups and interviews, which will help us understand specific experiences with volunteering 
  • An open submission process hosted through our website 
  • Our Volunteering in Australia survey 

Co-design is all about creating a preferred future in a people-centred way. Throughout our Discovery Phase we’ll be constantly iterating our lines of inquiry based on what we hear from the ecosystem. We’ll release Insights Reports at the end of each month that will summarise what we’ve learned and identify gaps in our evidence base that we still need to explore. 

As we move through the Discovery Phase, we’ll start building participatory design activities for the Visioning Phase. The Visioning Phase is all about prototyping. We’ll provoke ideas and you’ll help us test and evolve them. We’ll bring together diverse viewpoints and then co-create collective responses or solutions to the problems and ideas you’ve identified during the Discovery Phase. 

The Build Phase is an intense program of consultations, focus groups, and interviews. These will help us develop the different components of the National Strategy. We’ll turn everything you’ve told us, the ideas you’ve iterated, and the solutions you’ve suggested into a draft National Strategy, which we’ll then Test and Refine with the volunteering ecosystem. 

We have a unique opportunity to design a future for volunteering, together

During the first half of 2022 we will be engaging with people from all walks of life to hear their vision for volunteering in Australia.

Whether you’re a current volunteer, you’ve volunteered in the past, or you’ve never volunteered before, we want to hear from you about what matters to you.

We’ll also be engaging with volunteer management professionals, researchers, academics, companies with employee volunteering programs, and governments at all levels.

Watch this space for updates on how you can have your say and be part of this unique opportunity to shape the future of volunteering in Australia.

Don’t forget to subscribe for updates.

How we will engage with you

We want the National Strategy for Volunteering project to be as inclusive and accessible as possible and we want to hear from as many voices as we can. Our engagement methods will be a mix of face-to-face and digital, acknowledging the constraints that may be imposed by COVID-19. We will be holding workshops and focus groups and hosting an ‘open submission’ page on this website to gather insights and stories. 

We plan to be in every state and territory in 2022 to hear from you first-hand about your volunteering experience and how we can create an inclusive and sustainable future for volunteering in Australia.

Note: any face-to-face engagements will be conducted in a COVID-safe manner and in accordance with relevant Federal, State and Territory public health directives.

When we will engage with you

We’ll be gathering your feedback and insights from March through September. Keep an eye on this website for information on how you can register for a workshop or provide your feedback in another way. Don’t forget to subscribe for updates to be the first to know about upcoming engagements and opportunities to participate.

Tell us how you want to participate

We recognise that people like to provide feedback and share their voice in different ways. If you have an idea about how we can engage with you or your community as part of this project, please let us know. Submit your ideas or feedback by contacting us.

What we mean by ‘volunteering’

‘Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.’

In developing the National Strategy for Volunteering, we are being guided by the current definition of volunteering. This definition was introduced in 2015 following an extensive review. Since then, it has been widely adopted across Australia and is consistent with international definitions. 

Importantly, this definition captures both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ volunteering i.e., it recognises that whilst many volunteers offer their time formally through organisations, others self-organise and volunteer informally in the community. 

We are keen to understand the breadth, diversity, and richness of volunteering activity in our communities and how it is evolving over time. This also means that we will be endeavouring to shed light on activity that might not be labelled ‘volunteering’ by those involved.