Our Volunteer Advisory Committee (VAC) is a team of self-nominated volunteers, tasked with providing a user's perspective to the workings of Bush Heritage’s volunteer program.
We consist of six volunteers from across the nation and three incredibly helpful and supportive staff members, chaired by Michelle Stook – the Bush Heritage Volunteer Coordinator.
I come from the best bit (Tassie), where Bush Heritage originally started. Not being biased or anything!
We get together face-to-face in Melbourne once a year and for the rest of the year we have Skype meetings. A highlight of this year was the inaugural National Photo Competition. This was built on the work and efforts of the members of last year's VAC. The photography competition was open to volunteers and staff and the competition judge was the renowned Bush Heritage Ambassador and photographer Steve Parish.
Countless photographs are taken on reserves each year and the aim of the VAC was to share these beautiful images with a wider audience, to help tell the Bush Heritage story and communicate some of the connection between our landscapes, people and native wildlife.
Combining nature, art and people, winners were announced during National Volunteer Week celebrations in 2018. The overall winner was Brad Maryan, (WA). His winning image of the Mengden's Brown Snake (Pseudonaja mengdeni) was taken on Hamelin Reserve.
The VAC has also spent this year developing and conducting a volunteer survey so we get a good understanding of who is volunteering, why and what sort of experiences (good and bad) they have.
Luckily mostly they have great experiences but there are always lessons to be learned and things to be improved. This then is feeding into the other task the VAC has been working on – developing a Volunteer Engagement Strategy. This is still a work in progress but well underway. The strategy and results from the volunteer survey will be launched and forwarded to you all in the early part of 2019.
Being involved with the VAC is a great way to learn more about how Bush Heritage works. It also allows me to contribute to what I think is a really effective, focused and worthwhile organisation with some great people working for it, all aiming to improve and care for our unique Australian environment.