Which of the following statements best describes you?
During the first stage of consultations we heard that the vision and the six outcome areas under the current Strategy are still the right ones. Do you have any comments on the vision and outcome areas being proposed for the new Strategy?
The new Strategy should reflect that ‘full inclusion’ relates to volunteering as well as other aspects of life such as paid employment and the wide diversity of activities that make life fulfilling.
Volunteering offers opportunities for social, economic, and cultural inclusion. People with disability should have equal access to these opportunities. Volunteering can be particularly beneficial to people with disability in offering self-empowerment and pathways to paid employment.
Volunteering brings benefits which facilitate broader wellbeing and inclusion. Research consistently demonstrates that volunteering has a wide range of positive benefits for those who volunteer, including significant mental and physical health benefits and offering pathways to employment.
Research conducted with people with disability has demonstrated that volunteering among people with disability can reduce feelings of alienation and loneliness and allow an individual with disability to shift from being a recipient of welfare services into an empowered provider of services to others.
What do you think about the guiding principles proposed here?
The guiding principle to engage the broader community is welcome and should include the volunteering sector.
The strategy should include how the volunteering sector can support the delivery of defined outcomes in the Strategy. The sector offers inclusive volunteering programs, guidance, and opportunities.
The Strategy should support the development and extension of these initiatives so that more people with disability gain the benefits of volunteering.
What is your view on the proposal for the new Strategy to have a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes across all outcome areas?
We support the proposal for a stronger emphasis on improving community attitudes.
Nearly 6 million people volunteer in Australia each year – this wider volunteering community, and the volunteering infrastructure that supports it, is an important driver in shaping positive and disability-inclusive attitudes.
How do you think that clearly outlining what each government is responsible for could make it easier for people with disability to access the supports and services they need?
Clarity around the responsibilities of different governments will be important to achieving the strategic outcomes.
How do you think the Strategy should represent the role that the non-government sector plays in improving outcomes for people with disability?
The intention to clarify the role of sectors outside of government in the new Strategy is a very positive development. This should include the volunteering sector.
It is estimated that in 2019, around 1.5 million people with a disability volunteered through an organisation (24% of all formal volunteers). Around 1.8 million people with a disability volunteered informally in their communities (27% of all informal volunteers) in the four weeks prior to the 2019 General Social Survey (GSS) being undertaken.
People with disability face many barriers to volunteering. Research has demonstrated that many organisations do not offer volunteering positions to people with disability and those individuals who do manage to secure volunteering roles can face many challenges, owing to prejudice or lack of awareness and support.
Research commissioned by Volunteering Tasmania highlighted three key themes to understanding how people with a disability can volunteer: physical accessibility; attitudes and management; and support requirements. The authors of this research argued that for volunteering to be successful for a volunteer with a disability all three themes need to be considered.
What kind of information on the Strategy’s progress should governments make available to the public and how often should this information be made available?
What do you think of the proposal to have Targeted Action Plans that focus on making improvements in specific areas within a defined period of time (for example within one, two or three years)?
Targeted Action Plans would be welcome development.
A Targeted Action Plan on “improving the participation of people with disability in volunteering” would be very powerful in support the Strategy to deliver its outcomes.
Under Outcome 1 in the previous Strategy (People with disability live in accessible and well-designed communities with opportunity for full inclusion in social, economic, sporting and cultural life), the Strategy identified an ‘area for further action’ being the need to “Improve access and increase participation of people with disability in sporting, recreational, social, religious and cultural activities whether as participants, spectators, organisers, staff or volunteers.”
How could the proposed Engagement Plan ensure people with disability, and the disability community, are involved in the delivery and monitoring of the next Strategy?
The Engagement Plan could include engagement with Volunteering Australia and the State/Territory peak bodies who deliver a range of inclusive volunteering programs with people with disability. These include:
– The ‘Inclusive Volunteering Program’ run by VolunteeringACT is designed to help people with barriers to volunteering to find meaningful volunteering opportunities. Participants include people living with disability. VolunteeringACT work with organisations to create inclusive volunteering environments for participants of the Program.
– The ‘Inclusive Volunteering Pathways to Employment Program’ is offered by VolunteeringACT, The Centre for Volunteering (NSW), and Volunteering Tasmania. It aims to reduce and remove barriers to volunteering and employment for people living with disability and those on a mental health recovery journey. The Program supports participants to engage in volunteering as a pathway to employment and works with organisations to help them become more inclusive.
– ‘Volunteerability’ is a new program being launched in South Australia, run by Volunteering SA&NT in partnership with Orana Disability Services. The program will support people with disability to find meaningful volunteering opportunities, with the support of trained volunteer buddies.
Is there anything else you would like to share about the ideas and proposals in the position paper?
Overall, we would like to recommend that the National Disability Strategy:
Recognise and support the important role of volunteering in the lives of people with disability.
– Volunteering offers opportunities for social, economic, and cultural inclusion. People with disability should have equal access to these opportunities. Volunteering can be particularly beneficial to people with disability in offering self-empowerment and pathways to paid employment.
Include how the volunteering sector can support the delivery of defined outcomes in the Strategy.
– The sector offers inclusive volunteering programs, guidance, and opportunities. The Strategy should support the development and extension of these initiatives so that more people with disability gain the benefits of volunteering.
Incorporate strategic consideration of, and investment in, the volunteer workforce engaged in disability services.
– Volunteers play a vital role in disability services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Volunteering is time freely given, but enabling volunteering is not free. Like paid workers, volunteers need induction, training and ongoing management. Volunteers need to be considered strategically in workforce planning if disability services are to meet the needs and aspirations of people with disability.
The Position Paper makes no reference to volunteering. Our submission highlights the importance of volunteering in the lives of many people with disability and the role of volunteers in disability services. We urge that these dual outcomes be reflected and addressed in the new National Disability Strategy.