To celebrate National Volunteer Week and the wonderful work volunteers achieve around Australia, we thought we’d sit down and have a chat with the Natasha Brockwell, the Volunteer Program Coordinator here at WA AIDS Council, to find out just how important and invaluable volunteers really are to the running of a not for profit organisation. As well as her official role here, Natasha is also a community volunteer coordinator and diversity officer for a local “all ability” AFL football club, which caters for people from a huge array of backgrounds and cultures with various special needs or impediments.
As part of her role, Natasha is in charge of coordinating all the volunteers involved at the WA AIDS Council. From the initial two-day training and information session to creating rosters, recruiting, organising volunteers to help with specific events, office and behind the scenes work. An important focus for this year is to “retain the volunteers […] and make sure they feel appreciated,” Natasha explains, by refreshing training, offering additional training in different areas/programs and making sure the lines of communication are always open and accessible.
Volunteers make up a huge portion of staff at the WA AIDS Council, with around 30 paid staff and roughly 160 “active volunteers” in 2016. Active volunteers are the group of people that works in their specified role, usually around twice a month. However, the frequency of shifts does vary depending on the amount of time the individual is able to commit to and their personal timetable. By sheer numbers alone, the importance of volunteers for the running of the organisation is evident. People with all sorts of backgrounds and skill sets get involved for their own reasons, and it is encouraged that each individual think about what role or program they would be interested. Of course, the Volunteer Program Coordinator is there to guide you into the roles you’d be most effective in and enjoy the most. Everyone is welcome, with more outgoing people being very appropriate for the outreach program, open and non-judgmental personalities being excellent for the needle and syringe exchange program (NSEP) and self-sufficient office workers is definitely a bonus.
Some roles require specific attributes, such as peer based positions based on age and indentified gender or sexuality. Some roles in the M Clinic for example, require peer educators. Similarly, the Keep It Safe Summer (KISS) program for young people also prefers peer educators, with an age range guideline of 18-25. For the most part, this is because having a peer to talk to is often the way the information feels the most accessible for people who require it.
The pinnacle of volunteer’s efforts at the WA AIDS Council is without a doubt STYLEAID, the annual fundraising raising event raising awareness around HIV/AIDS. The fashion show and auction showcases Australian designers and retailers through a fantastic night of food and fashion, which would not be possible without the amazing support by our dedicated volunteers, as well as the corporate volunteers who help every year. The 2015 “GOGO” STYLEAID event (pictured above) had more than 100 volunteers working behind the scenes, dressing models, working front of house making sure everything ran smoothly, something which would not have happened without the fantastic group of people who get involved every year.
So, from everyone here at the WA AIDS Council, we say THANK YOU volunteers.
If you would like to volunteer with the WA AIDS Council, contact Natasha via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 08 9482 0000.