Volunteers share their experience

Stefan from Bronte Bushcare volunteer

Stafan

Why did you become a volunteer?

Walking through Bronte Park, I’d occasionally notice a banner saying “Help Us Create a Rainforest”. What better way to spend a Sunday?

What steps did you have to take before becoming a bushcare volunteer?

I didn’t do any training or checks before starting and didn’t know much about bush regeneration, but with expert guidance I’ve learnt a lot over the years.

How much of your time do you give?

Not much this year, but usually I rarely miss a Bushcare session. It did me good to spend a few hours in the sun grubbing about in the dirt.

How flexible is the organisation you volunteer for?

The group meets every second Sunday between 10am and 1pm, so there is a set routine. However, there’s no obligation to attend every session or to stay for an entire session.

There’s also flexibility in the variety of tasks. Some people prefer to sit in a quiet, shady place meditatively weeding; others prefer more physical work like terracing a steep slope.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

I have a tiny garden which doesn’t take enough time to maintain, so Bushcare lets me spend more time ‘gardening’. Volunteering is an ideal way to pursue an interest. 

How do you think your work has benefited the community?

Volunteers are transforming Bronte Gully from a neglected landfill site to a verdant idyll of rare biodiversity and stunning beauty.

The Bushcare group has also lobbied for the recycling of water from the stormwater drain. Once a natural stream, there is great scope to increase both its beauty and utility.

What’s the most challenging thing about volunteering?

This questionnaire! Seriously though, volunteering isn’t challenging, I do it because I want to.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about volunteering?

Volunteering is a great way to meet enthusiastic, like-minded people, to learn new skills without having to pay for the privilege, to gain experience in a flexible work environment and to make a positive contribution to the local community.

 


Jason from Woollahra Youth volunteer

jason

Why did you become a volunteer?

I have been fortunate to receive a good education so I wanted to make a positive impact in my community. I am also passionate about several social issues including empowering young people.

What sort of volunteering do you do?

For the last year I have been Chairperson of the Waverley Area Youth Advisory Council and I’ve helped organise the EmbRACE Harmony Forum, which asks young people ‘What does it mean to live in a multicultural society?’

What sort of tasks are you involved in?

Conducting research, presenting at events, advising, helping facilitate conferences and forums.

How did you find out about becoming a volunteer?

Through friends, the youth council and YAPA and the ‘youth gas’ mailing list.

How much of your time do you give?

About three hours a week.

Tell us about your most memorable volunteering moment?

Seeing the young participants at the EmbRACE Harmony forum engage in a really meaningful way. They were excited because they were asked their opinion, which young people don’t get asked very often.

How do you think your work has benefited the community?

Helping young people interact meaningfully with society and develop skills and knowledge for their future.

What’s the most challenging thing about volunteering?

Knowing how the organisations you volunteer with actually work and who is responsible for what etc...

 


Chris from Bronte Bushcare volunteer

Chris

Why did you become a volunteer?

I wanted to help the community restore the bushland.

What sort of volunteering do you do?

Bush regeneration on a local council site

What sort of tasks are you involved in?

Removal of weeds and invasive species, planting native plants, mulching and pruning the area.

How did you find out about becoming a Bushcare volunteer?

I was walking past the Bushcare site one day and saw people working there. I found out when they were meeting next, turned up and started working!

How much of your time do you give? How easy/difficult is it to balance volunteering with your work?

About three or four hours every fortnight.

Tell us about your most memorable volunteering moment?

Every day!

What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

Meeting people and working outdoors. I work in an office all week so it’s great to get outside a do a bit of physical activity.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about volunteering?

Just do it, you won’t regret it.

 


Sarah from Bondi Overseas volunteer

Sarah

Why did you become a volunteer?

I wanted to do some community development work that would complement my Masters in Development Studies and let me work at a grass roots level in a developing country.

What sort of volunteering do you do?

I volunteered with Youth Challenge International to help with a community education project in a remote community on the Island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

What sort of tasks did you do?

Helping educate the community about adolescent reproductive health with a focus on HIV/AIDS, women’s opportunities, health education and disaster preparedness.

This included organizing a week-long Youth Skills Summit for approximately seventy local youths.

How did you find out about becoming a volunteer for Youth Challenge International Vanuatu?

I looked on the Youth Challenge Australia website.

What steps did you have to take before becoming a volunteer for Youth Challenge International Vanuatu?

I had to attend a selection day which involved group activities and an interview.

I also had to raise the project participation fee and complete a pre-departure briefing and we had several days of orientation prior to travelling to our community.

How much of your time do you give? How easy/difficult is it to balance volunteering with your work?

This project was for six weeks and my employer was very flexible in allowing me to take time out of the office.

How do you think your work has benefited the community?

The community we worked with learnt new and important health information. They plan to continue to learn about and share this information with their children and each other.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about volunteering?

Definitely give it a go. It’s a rich experience and a lot of fun.