One of the few policies in regards with anything to do with volunteering came from one of the political parties in the last week of campaigning.
From an article by Probono Australia
“Volunteering Australia says any plan to set up a volunteer scheme to allow university students to offset some of their HECS debt needs much more work.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott announced that the coalition would initiate a pilot scheme if elected to Government, in response to a question during the Forum at the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane held last night.
Abbott told the audience that students who volunteered would receive $10 per hour, which would come off their tertiary study HECS debt.
The Labor Government also flagged a similar scheme in January 2010 based on an idea from the 2020 Summit.
Today the Liberal Party released more details about the scheme saying it will encourage the development of Australia’s next generation of community volunteers with a $7 million pilot volunteering program to be known as AUSCORPS.
Under the pilot program, up to 1,000 university students per year will be eligible to receive a $10 credit against their HECS debt for each hour of volunteer work they undertake, up to a maximum 200 hours or $2,000 per year.
Volunteering Australia CEO Cary Pedicini says he has concerns about the implementation of such a scheme and whether it addresses the ethical issues that challenged the traditional definition of volunteering…….and……” it is the view of Volunteering Australia that the initiative as it has been articulated does not fit with the accepted definition of volunteering and as such Volunteering Australia does not recommend that a proposed scheme be considered as volunteering.
However it said Volunteering Australia believes that the initiative could be reframed as a “community investment” scheme”
Comments on the pro bono website have varied
“But there are many University students already volunteering their time without financial compensation, for these people, this plan would be beneficial, as they are volunteering for the right reasons”
“My husband and I are both mature age university students and we both spend significant amount of time volunteering for various local organisations. We do this because we want to help, not for any personal gain. We don't have money to give so we give our time to help others who need it more than ourselves. This scheme would be an excellent way to assist us and would be an appreciated thanks for our work”
“Why can’t this be just one of many benefits of volunteering? I don’t understand Volunteering Australia’s resistance to this and their arguments don’t stack up. They talk about definitions of volunteering. Whose? Theirs?...... Their own policies are inconsistent. For example: VA has a problem with this yet embraces corporate volunteering?”
“Please, let's call it what it is, perhaps 'Student Community Work' and leave the term 'volunteer' unsullied.”
“Perhaps it is time we re-defined what volunteering actually is in the 21st century rather than holding on to 1980's volunteering romantic stereotypes?”
The DJ View?
Interesting stuff. I didn’t see much reaction from the Volunteer Management community. Mind you the policy was announced late in the campaign. Still, the volunteer management community should have responded. Why?
Maybe some Volunteer Managers disagree with such an initiative. That is fine. But guess what? If implemented and if implemented under a title of “student community work” guess who will be managing the Student Community workers in organisations? HR Managers? Fundraising Managers? Corporate Service managers? Or will organisations find the funds to create student Community Work Coordinators? What do you think Volunteering Australia?
Where’s the synergy between some key stakeholders in volunteerism here?…all peak bodies have a say in this including peak bodies for VOLUNTEER MANAGEMENT as well as Volunteering.