Volunteering opportunities off campus
There are so many exciting volunteer and developmental opportunities in your local or online communities, it’s just a case of deciding what you want to get out of a volunteer experience and then seeking out the right opportunity for you. Here are some top tips to get you started.
What do I want to get out of my volunteering?
Here are some of the main reasons Federation students have told us they like to volunteer and some things to think about if you share these reasons.
- Building skills and experience for my resume: Take a look at your current resume and consider where the gaps are. Research the core skills needed for your future career, check out our Graduate Attributes Policy or book a meeting with a Student Development and Employability Advisor to see where your current skills and experience gaps are and how you could use volunteering as a way of filling those gaps.
- Knowing I helped someone or made a difference: What are you passionate about? Maybe you are interested in a particular social issue and want to make positive change or maybe you have lived through an experience and want to make it better for others. Whatever it is that gets you fired up, you are sure to find an organisation to volunteer for who are already working in that space, from social to environmental issues and everything in between.
- Meeting new people and making connections: There are lots of reasons to want to make new connections from making new friends to finding a great referee for your next job application. The type of volunteering you do will be greatly influenced by what kind of connections you want to make, personal or professional. If you are wanting to make new friends then consider volunteering in something you are passionate about so that you meet like-minded people. Ask the right questions of the organisation such as how many other volunteers will you be in contact with to make sure this experience will really meet your desired outcomes.
- Growing my self-confidence: Most new experiences will help to develop our self-confidence in some way but it’s good to make sure you are going to be challenged by the volunteering you are signing up for. Just as you did with considering your current skills gaps, think about the areas that you currently feel less confident in doing and see where a volunteer role might be able to give you exposure to these situations. Make sure you tell the people you are volunteering with so that they can support you in reaching your goals.
Where can I find the right opportunity?
- Log into EDGE to find volunteering opportunities advertised by local not-for-profit organisations. These opportunities will be regularly updated so keep checking to find the right one for you.
- Volunteer websites: Volunteering Australia has a national website filled with volunteer opportunities and is a great place to start looking. Many local volunteer resource centres are also linked to this website and list their opportunities: GoVolunteer is a non-profit initiative designed to make volunteering easier. Seek also has a website dedicated to volunteer opportunities.
- Volunteer Resource Centres: Many regions have a volunteer resource centre helping to connect people with local opportunities. Here are some great links:
- Local council: Take a look at your local town or city council’s website for local volunteer opportunities
- Neighbourhood centres: Your local neighbourhood centre is often an untapped resource for exploring your interests and developing skills as they run a series of community interest groups and training courses. Neighbourhood centres are not-for-profit organisations and are often supported by volunteers. You can find your local centre through the Australian Neighbourhood Houses and Centres Association website.
- Online: Contributing to open source software will give you a chance to develop skills and get connected to online communities. A couple of great places to start are GitHub or GitLab, two software platforms which invite open source contributions.
What else should I consider?
- Insurance: As a volunteer rather than a paid staff member you will not be covered by Work Cover. To ensure that you are protected whilst volunteering, it is recommended that you ask the organisation you are volunteering for if they have public liability insurance (the policy must mention volunteers) and personal accident for volunteers.
- Safety screenings: If you are hoping to carry out a volunteer role which has any contact with children, young people or people who are vulnerable, you will most likely be asked by the volunteer organisation to get a Police Check or the appropriate screening check that your state or territory requires to prove that you can work safely with children. In most states this is referred to as a Working with Children Check and ensures the protection of you as a volunteer, the organisation and the people you are volunteering to help.
- Volunteering resources: For more tips and resources on what you need to know and do as a volunteer check out the Volunteering Australia website.
If you would like to chat more about any of this information or to get started with your volunteering please contact the Student Development team to make a face to face, telephone or screen to screen appointment