This week is National Volunteer Week. The 2020 theme is Changing Communities, Changing Lives.’
The theme is consistent with VMIAC’s vision of ‘a world where all mental health consumers stand proud, live a life with choices honoured, rights upheld and these principles are embedded in all aspects of society’. This is what VMIAC has been working towards since our inception in the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981. We were founded by and continue to be governed by consumer-volunteers.
As people with a lived experience of mental illness and emotional distress, we all know the value of informal and formal peer support and mutual aid, especially during difficult times such as this period of enforced social isolation and consequent economic contraction associated with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Historically, volunteering has also enriched the consumer movement through citizen-volunteer-driven community development and arts and cultural development projects, consumer-led mental health education, human rights and social justice campaigning and, consistent with VMIAC’s Vision and Strategic Direction, the mobilising of collaborative movements for radical social change.
Our members and volunteers are central to all our systemic advocacy efforts, making an invaluable contribution to VMIAC’s community and to expressing and achieving our Vision, Mission and Goals.
In February 2020, VMIAC’s Committee of Management formally adopted VMIAC’s Volunteer Policy.
We are now a proud member of Volunteering Victoria with whom we have been working this year to ensure we can deliver on our commitments, as a Volunteer-Involving Organisation, to our many enthusiastic and highly valued volunteers.
We have been working with Volunteering Victoria on what shape our Volunteer Program may take as well as exploring the range of current and possible roles that might constitute volunteering at VMIAC.
We’ve drafted a Volunteer Handbook for Managers, hosted ‘The A – Z of Volunteering’ training for all VMIAC Staff and available Committee of Management members, established a Volunteer Program Working Group with consumer membership to assist guide the implementation of our policy, kick-start our formal volunteer program and promote volunteering opportunities. We are also in the process of drafting a Volunteer Charter and writing our first Volunteer Position Descriptions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has meant face-to-face volunteering has not been possible at our Offices. VMIAC has been engaging members via Zoom on critical reference groups, committees, and project working groups, and this has been an exciting and productive new learning curve for all concerned.
As a consequence of this experience, it is more than likely that VMIAC will continue to offer a range of on site and on-line volunteering opportunities into the future.
In addition to extending the reach and impact and improving the depth and quality of our systemic advocacy work, volunteers bring diversity and creativity to VMIAC, frequently pioneering significant new project and program directions and initiatives.
If you are interested in volunteering with VMIAC or have any questions about our volunteering policy, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you again to all of you who choose to volunteer.