Views from Australia

On a recent trip to Australia, there was much coverage in the news about a 'think tank' type summit looking forward to 2020. The new Labour Government was looking for a few new ideas to help make Australia a better nation. There were some good ideas that I liked, for example, volunteering as a way of paying off your HECS debt (the cost of going to Uni = about A$40,000 for the standard degree) off.

So when I was hosted by the Australian equivalent of AVM (AAVA) to share my perspectives of volunteering in the UK, I used this example of how when someone in a postion of power (usually a politician) comes up with a new idea, sometimes even a worthy idea, there is this assumption that the volunteering sector will be able to deliver the programme (like collect and register the hours volunteers are engaged with the tax office to help pay off debts, as an example only) with little thought, planning or consideration of the impact it would have take on the volunteering sector… because volunteering is free, isn't it? The mumbles, nodding heads and sighs of agreement as I spoke meant that in the UK we are not alone. 

After the meeting I wondered if I was being too cynical or hard on politians who get new ideas, then get little money and then put pressure on civil servants to deliver new policies and targets – what do others think?



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