National Volunteer
Week 2018

Theme: Ethics in Volunteer Leadership: Hidden in Plain Sight
31 May 2018
Where: State Library Victoria


  • MC: Geoff Sharp
  • Address: Gabrielle Williams
  • Keynote: Professor Robert Wood (Cognicity & University of New South Wales)


  • Chirag Lodhia (Positively Transforming World)
  • Marie Sloan (Work for the Soul)
  • Robert Wood (Cognicity & UNSW)
  • Geoff Sharp (VV Board)

On 31 May, Volunteering Victoria was delighted to host the Forum: Ethics in Volunteer Leadership. Our National Volunteer Week celebration event attracted 120 delegates, supported by six volunteers.

Videos and of the forum are available on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Gabrielle Williams, Parliamentary Secretary for Carers and Volunteers and Cindy McLeish, Shadow Assistant Minister for Environment, Communities and Volunteers, attended the forum as special guests. Ms Williams spoke about the importance of volunteering for our communities and support for the volunteering sector by the Victorian Government, through the Ministerial Advisory Council (MAC) for Volunteers. The MAC will oversee funding announced in the 2018-19 Victorian Budget to map existing tools and resources available to volunteer managers, and to pilot innovations in volunteer management.

Keynote speaker: Prof Robert Wood

The forum featured a keynote address from Robert Wood (Director Cognicity) and a panel discussion facilitated by Rowena Doo, (National Television Quiz Show Champion) with esteemed panellists Chirag Lodhia (Positively Transforming World), Marie Sloan (CEO, Work for the Soul), and Geoff Sharp (Volunteering Victoria Board Director).

The panel shared their experiences with ethical dilemmas and their lessons and aspirations for ethical leadership. Some of their experiences and insights included:

  • Because so many professionals and organisations in the volunteering sector are mission-driven and focussed on supporting clients or furthering a cause, it can be easy to forget to look out for ourselves and our colleagues to the same extent.
  • We should be cognisant of the power we have over vulnerable people, even as a volunteer manager.
  • The value of volunteering and contributing time cannot be understated, people remember the time they have volunteered for the rest of their life.
  • There is a trend these days of people wanting to volunteer as a pathway to employment or to comply with government work requirements. Whatever the situation, those people should be highly valued and you should be flexible with them within the framework of your organisation.
  • Sometimes a volunteer program is cut – one panellist found that telling the volunteers what is happening and why honestly and without spin, while it might be the hardest thing to do, was the right thing to do.
  • There are times when you wish you could turn back the clock and do things differently. Some ways to help navigate difficult situations before they arise are:
    • to come to a common agreements at the start of a relationship (volunteer agreements are one way of doing this),
    • learn as much as possible about who you are dealing with, and
    • consider as many options as possible (sometimes doing nothing is an option we overlook).
  • A special thank you to Harlinah Teoh, Manager People and Culture, State Library of Victoria again for the Library’s generosity in providing the stunning venue for our National Volunteer Week celebrations. And most importantly, thank you to the wonderful volunteers who supported the event!