Friday, December 3, 2010

Professional and effective Volunteer Management will not threaten jobs !

"In your mind you have capacities you know

To telepath messages through the vast unknown

Please close your eyes and concentrate

With every thought you think

Upon the recitation we’re about to sing

(*) calling occupants of interplanetary craft

Calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft

Repeat (*)

You’ve been observing our earth

And we’d like to make a contact with you

We are your friends" Copyright The Carpenters

Jayne Cravens has a fantastic article on her blog at the moment. Please check it out for yourselves and you’ll find her blog address here. This is what Jayne is saying on Facebook:

“The firefighters union in the USA (IAFF) is against volunteer firefighters. I've blogged today about this incredibly misguided stance, and hope that state and local volunteer management associations all over the USA will also take a public stand on this issue. I encourage others to blog about it, to say something in your Facebook about it, to tweet about it, to put something in your newsletter about it!”

Here is what I posted in response to Jayne’s blog

"Professional and effective volunteer managers simply will not tolerate, at their organisations, any attempt to use volunteers as a replacement for paid labor. It’s almost a given among the colleagues I know. It has become so ethically ingrained into the volunteer management ethos that it begs the question whether the union had any semblance of dialogue with the Volunteer Management sector. Maybe they should if they haven’t.
Here is an issue that a national association for volunteer management can get its teeth stuck into. I am still a little unclear on who that organisation might be in the USA.

I have, throughout my career, talked with unions on the matter of volunteerism with positive outcomes. So have colleagues of mine. It’s amazing what honest dialogue and transparency can achieve.

An effective and professional volunteer management sector need not be enemies with any union movement. Au contraire – they can be their best allies ensuring volunteers are never used inappropriately. After all that is the lifeblood of ethical volunteer management! So, in reality, we need not be alien towards each other. “We are your friends”

Thanks Jayne for raising an important issue – although for me the worrying underlying issue is the lack of action on the part of our the volunteer management sector in combating misperceptions on volunteering as well as the lack of the “recognition factor” in terms of been engaged in dialogue when it comes to these matters.

Too often Volunteer Management is excluded from the narrative. For that we only have ourselves to blame. I would make a fairly safe bet that unions don’t even know that a volunteer management sector exists not to mind a professional body for same!

A first step in addressing this will be professional volunteer management associations around the world taking heed of your call to make a stand on this issue. Let us know when this happens!"

1 comment:

  1. I too share your concerns DJ. There needs to be a lot more dialogue and better understanding of the roles of firefighters in both the paid and voluntary capacity.

    My understanding of the structure of the Fire and Rescue Service in Australia is as follows:-
    • In densely populated urban areas, the firefighters are paid and work full time.
    • In less populated areas, the firefighters are on-call. They are usually in regular paid employment outside the Fire and Rescue Service but can be contacted via pager to respond to a fire. These firefighters, known as Auxiliary firefighters, are paid only when they are called out to attend a fire. They receive the same training as full time paid firefighters.
    • In rural areas the firefighters are volunteers. They are known as the Rural Fire Service. Their role is mostly to put out grass and vegetation fires. While they do receive training, they are not required to do the same level of training as full time paid and on-call auxiliary firefighters.

    Fire and Rescue services in Australia are managed at a state level where each state or territory has its own fire and rescue service. A member of my own family is in a paid position in the Fire and Rescue Service in Australia. She is also a volunteer firefighter.

    In Australia opinions towards volunteer firefighters tend to vary. I would suggest that any negativity regarding engaging volunteer firefighters would be based on preconceived ideas or perhaps a lack of understanding of the roles of volunteer firefighters.

    I have included links to a couple of websites below which outlines the role of the volunteers within the Rural Fire Service. I think the value placed on volunteer firefighters is self evident in the paragraphs contained on these websites.

    The NSW Rural Fire Service, the world's largest fire service. Our 70,000 volunteer members provide emergency services to over 95 percent of NSW.


    The Rural Fire Service is an integral part of Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, with a proud history spanning over 50 years. The Rural Fire Service provides fire management for rural and semi-rural communities (outside urban fire levy areas) across approximately 93% of the area of the State. Services include fire mitigation, prescribed burning, volunteer training, community awareness and education.
    For more information or for the latest bushfire risk information, visit the Rural Fire Service website at


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