Whether you work a day job or are seeking one, volunteering is a great opportunity to gain valuable experience – both personally and professionally. It’s also a fantastic way to meet new people, often with the same interests as yours. You might find yourself with a whole new bunch of friends!
Volunteering can also be lots of fun. Whether you’re at a sporting or music event, or helping within a more corporate environment, giving your time to help a team can be a very positive and uplifting experience for everyone involved.
Students who want to gain work experience can often find it challenging to be given that first break by an employer. Volunteering can offer you that chance, giving you that much needed practical experience you need to demonstrate your skills relating to your chosen career.
If you’re a job seeker, volunteering can also help you gain hands-on local experience. Making connections with organisations can also help your job seeking efforts, as employers will see first-hand what you can bring to their team.
Plus, you’ll get a great confidence boost whilst you’re applying for jobs. Use your experience in your job interviews, by talking about real examples of how you helped your team achieve its goals. This is a great way to show your potential future employer how much you have to offer them!
Here are just a few examples of how you can share your talents with the community, as well as advancing your career prospects:
There are many charities for all sorts of causes in Australia, from caring for the homeless, animal welfare, environmental issues and a variety of human illnesses.
Charities are often looking for volunteers to help out with a number of functions. For example, there might be fundraisers and events that look for people skilled in preparing and cooking food. Other practical ways you can help could include handing out flyers and asking participants questions, to something more physical such as helping set up stages and installations. Or you might be able to provide support to people on a helpline for a range of charities dealing with specific illnesses or mental health issues.
You can search for a charity at the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission charity register at https://www.acnc.gov.au/charity
There are a number of professional volunteering organisations where you can donate your skills and time, such as Doctors Without Borders (https://www.msf.org.au/) and Engineers Without Borders (https://www.ewb.org.au/).
Check with your professional association to see if they’re associated with a similar professional volunteering organisation.
Clinical trials are held around Australia to help test new ways to prevent, detect and treat diseases. There are usually eligibility criteria such as gender, demographics and other factors so it depends on what is being offered at the time. If you participate in one, you’ll be helping yourself and others by improving health care and standards for everyone.
You can search for a current list of clinical trials here: https://www.australianclinicaltrials.gov.au/
You may be able to volunteer for organisations on campus, which include peer support programs, local clubs and other specific causes. Your university or one near you will list the volunteering opportunities on their respective website.
You can find a list of Australian universities here: https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/english/australian-education/universities-and-higher-education/list-of-australian-universities
Music concerts and other festivals often require volunteers to help out with logistics and concert goer welfare. This might range from being a wardrobe assistant, an usher or providing first aid when necessary. Search on the internet to see what festivals are happening near you and see if they require volunteers to help out.
Or you can accompany people with disabilities to functions and events. One example is Gig Buddies in Sydney - https://www.gigbuddiessydney.org/
If you love the sun and fresh air, perhaps an outdoor event enhancing Australia’s environment is for you – such as cleaning up rubbish in local waterways or tree planting.
There are many online resources to find volunteer opportunities located across major cities in Australia which are listed below.
A huge source of volunteering opportunities are listed on www.volunteer.com.au. Here you can search by your interests or event type, by location, and length of time required. It also gives you the option to tick why the opportunity might be good for you. For example, if you want to volunteer for work experience, or if you have limited English, these are options for you.
To apply, fill in your details online, and you will receive an email confirming your interest.
Volunteering Australia www.volunteeringaustralia.org works to advance volunteering in the community. They run National Volunteer Week which occurs in May every year.
Here you can connect with your State/Territory body to find your nearest volunteer resource centre. You can also search volunteer opportunities by entering your interest, duration and location.
Keep track of your volunteering interests on the go with the www.govolunteer.com.au/App. Create a profile, and you’ll be shown opportunities of interest as they become available. You can also create a shortlist of your favourites and make new searches wherever you are.
The app is free and currently available from the App Store and Google play.
Instead of waiting to hear about volunteering positions, why not create them yourself? You can do this by approaching an organisation that interests you directly. Offer them your time and skills and explain the difference you can make. Putting yourself in front of people will show you are an enthusiastic person with a positive attitude. This is a great way to attract attention for yourself.
If you end up volunteering with them, and become a valuable member of the team, they may find they can’t carry on without you. This is a great way to form connections to organisations that you may want to work with long term.
Taking a walk down to your local community centre may provide opportunities right there on your doorstep. What better way to connect with your neighbours than to volunteer in your local community? Not only will you be providing immediate benefits to where you live, you could open up even more opportunities, such as local job offers and making new friends.
Volunteering is a large part of many Australians’ lives and there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities available every day across the nation. You might be surprised at how many practical and life skills you can offer the community.
You can choose to support a particular cause, be on the front line at sporting events, or your passion may be to connect with young people. With so many organisations seeking volunteers, you’re bound to find an opportunity that suits your skills and interests.
Volunteering can be deeply rewarding. Offering your time to help others is a unique way to give back to your community. People who volunteer speak about their experiences as being very fulfilling and happy times, often mentioning positive changes in their lives. This means they felt appreciated by the community, they helped improve the wellbeing of others, and improved their own sense of place in the world. If volunteering sounds right for you and your situation, why not start with the resources above today and see what you can gain.
So what are you waiting for? Join many other people who volunteer their time and see what you can learn.