Step Into Voluntary Work

In 2000, the Australian Multicultural Foundation and the Office of Multicultural Affairs began to investigate the relationship between people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and volunteering in Australia . The research showed that while people from CALD backgrounds are often involved in the 'informal' voluntary sector within their own communities, they were less likely to become involved in the 'mainstream' voluntary sector.

To address the issue of accessibility and diversity within the Australian voluntary sector a program with two components were developed and delivered in 2002/03.

The Step Into Voluntary Work Course

This ten-week course for women from CALD backgrounds was designed to introduce students to the concept of "volunteering" within the Australian context. Cross-cultural definitions of volunteering could be explored and compared to the expectations of mainstream Australian organisations. Included in the curriculum were issues such as the rights of the volunteer, confidentially, basic counselling & communication skills and referral skills.

The course included a 50-hour work placement in a local community organisation. Students could choose to work within their own communities, multicultural organisations (such as a Migrant Resource Centre) or mainstream organisations. Examples of the types of work placements include working as an accountant with World Vision, administration with a local Neighbourhood House or assisting in child-care at a local day kindergarten.

Another benefit of the course was for students to share experiences and make friends within the classroom, allowing them to build up confidence and skills before going on work placement. This addressed some of the barriers to the participation of people from CALD backgrounds by providing them with support during the transition into the voluntary sector.

This course was accredited by RMIT and graduates received four units credit towards a Certificate II in Community Services.

Train the Trainer

The train the trainer course for Volunteer Coordinators was specifically designed to address some of the organisational barriers to the participation of people from CALD backgrounds in mainstream volunteer organisations.

Skills taught included:

  • The Recruitment and Retention of Volunteers from CALD backgrounds
  • Mentoring and Support
  • Inclusive Training Practises

It is interesting to note that staff from multicultural organisations, such as AMES or Migrant Resource Centres, also found the skills from these two-day workshops very useful.

This innovative program was developed and delivered in partnership with Judith Miralles & Associates and RMIT University . The courses are funded by the Community Support Fund.

For further information please contact Lynn Cain at the Australian Multicultural Foundation on (03) 9347 6622.