News & Announcements

Response to 2024-25 State Budget

On Tuesday 7 May 2024, the Victorian Government presented its 2024/2025 Budget. The discussion that followed, both in the media and among the public, focused largely on major infrastructure projects in Victoria. 

Like many Victorians, we welcome initiatives that make it easier to travel, access healthcare, and address social housing shortages, among other budget priorities. After all, infrastructure is essential for volunteers, who often assist disadvantaged or vulnerable Victorians and we know that improved infrastructure, education, and housing can positively impact these groups. 

However as the peak body for volunteering, Volunteering Victoria asks:

“Where is the discussion about the social and community infrastructure needed to support Volunteer Involving Organisations and volunteers?” 

For example, community sports clubs need grounds, uniforms, and equipment. But game day depends on volunteers, whether they manage the scoreboard, prepare halftime snacks, sell tickets, handle finances, or support the coach. Clubs need trained, resourced, and skilled volunteers to thrive. 

Volunteering is about caring for our own communities and addressing local needs. It is often about unique, community-driven solutions. However, volunteering is changing and many factors, not least rising living costs, have made it harder for people to volunteer. We need to talk about the ‘social infrastructure’ to ensure that volunteering and our communities continue to thrive. 

There is also a need to promote equity and inclusion in volunteering and recognise diverse forms of community contribution. We should better support the various ways people give their time and skills to build social cohesion and create pathways to employment. Volunteering enhances social connections and builds community. We need to do more to make volunteering inclusive, diverse, and accessible, understanding its role in a multicultural context to improve community engagement and volunteer practices. This takes time, knowledge and skill for organisations and groups, and the infrastructure to provide this support is desperately needed at community level across Victoria – whether in the regions or the suburbs. 

Volunteering Victoria stresses the need for community-level support to help volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations (VIOs). Simply put, community infrastructure is dwindling. Just as we maintain and extend roads to connect more places, we need to invest in building and supporting community infrastructure now before it gets too hard or expensive to replace. 

Support for strong, local volunteer programs and services, like volunteer resource centres, community information centres or even neighbourhood houses, has been diminishing for a long time. Many are tiny, volunteer-driven organisations who are at the point of folding. These programs are vital for helping communities and organisations tackle social issues, address needs in the community, and create thriving, connected communities. 

Volunteering Victoria continues to advocate for the necessary infrastructure to support thriving, connected communities by making volunteering as accessible and as simple as possible for the volunteers, volunteer organisations, and communities. 

Post the pandemic, our members tell us the decline in volunteer participation is a critical issue. Today many organisations face challenges, as volunteer numbers decline and support systems are lacking. Despite this, the essential infrastructure to support volunteering is going missing. Without proper support of that infrastructure by community, the media, and all levels of government, many community organisations will struggle to sustain and grow their volunteer programs. 

Challenges to volunteer participation include rising living costs, lack of funding for volunteer programs, and the increasing complexity of regulations around volunteers. Another significant factor is the changes in perceptions of the how, whom, and when volunteers are needed, which all make volunteering more difficult.  

These factors discourage people from volunteering and limit volunteer programs’ capacity. The lack of resources to support volunteer-involving organisations at a community level continues to be a blocker. 

Victorians and Victorian communities will continue to be less able to respond to the needs around them without the people in the volunteer support services to help make volunteering happen. This infrastructure needs profile, attention and funding now. It is like every bit of infrastructure; you have to maintain it or you will lose it, and you ignore it at our shared peril. 

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