Since COVID changed the way we live our lives, getting involved in our community through volunteering is no longer as straight forward as it once was. With so many people no longer volunteering, communities can be forgiven for surrendering to the downward trend. But in Clunes, this threat to the town’s capacity has provided a blue-sky opportunity to reimagine volunteering in our tiny, rural town.
Clunes in Victoria (Dja Dja Wurrung Country) has a long history of building capacity and social cohesion through volunteering.
Prior to the pandemic Clunes boasted a volunteering rate of 30.2% (well above the state average of 19%). So perhaps it is no surprise in August 2022 Clunes was selected to receive just one of 19 grants awarded to support local partnership and innovation projects to re-engage volunteers, broaden the volunteer base, and strengthen volunteering in local communities.
Called Volunteering Local, this 6-month project is funded by the State Government of Victoria, Department of Families, Fairness and Housing. The project takes a uniquely place-based approach to volunteering, focusing on reducing barriers to volunteering in Clunes, working collaboratively to make it easier for people to volunteer and find new ways of volunteering here, as well as showcasing the different contributions volunteers make to the town.
The project will include:
Easy way to connect – a handy bank where you can deposit your skills and interest, and match them with volunteer opportunities in town
Promotions – lots of ways different (and visible!) ways to connect with volunteer-involving groups in town
Behind the scenes, Volunteering Local involves five Clunes community groups (as a pilot) to explore how they could reimagine their volunteer-involving activities going forward. Designed to help groups remove barriers to participation and improve outcomes for all, the project has been boosted by additional funding from the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal for training and development. Both the website and the resources developed during the training will be available for other community groups in Clunes to adopt.