An update from the Volunteer Advisory Committee
I’ve had the pleasure of getting out and about on the 3 Bush Heritage Australia reserves in mid-west WA in recent weeks, and have thoroughly enjoyed meeting and mingling with other volunteers helping-out on our reserves. All of those whom I have met were in good spirits and making significant contributions to our work.
It was amazing, and inspiring, to see the huge amount of hard work put-in by volunteers at the 2018 Hamelin Science Fair – and I know that Lis McLellan, Erica Suosaari, Jackie Mahood and the team running the event were in awe of all of the fabulous work carried out by the volunteers who helped with the project.
Their ‘hard yakka’ and good spirits that I witnessed first-hand were echoed in the results of the 2018 Volunteer Survey, which was recently conducted by the Volunteer Advisory Committee. The last time we did a survey of this kind was in 2013, so we were interested to see how things were progressing. I'm pleased to report that we either ‘held our ground’ or saw improvements in just about every area.
We received 304 responses from the 1,050 active volunteers who were invited to provide feedback. That’s a pretty impressive 29% response rate. Not bad for busy people. Here are some of the key results:
- 95% said they'd enjoyed a ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ experience volunteering, with comments highlighting the importance of working with enthusiastic, engaging and supportive staff members.
- 99% said they considered their tasks either ‘meaningful’ or ‘very meaningful’, which considerably added to their satisfaction response.
- 80% said their volunteering was primarily motivated by wanting to make a contribution to nature conservation, and a desire to contribute to positive conservation outcomes through relevant work with an organisation like Bush Heritage.
- 91% said they'd already committed (at the time of doing the survey) to more, new work on a Bush Heritage Reserve, or are ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ to do so in the near future.
- The highest ranked motivation factors cited were: The enjoyment of working with Bush Heritage staff and other like-minded volunteers (60%); Seeing results in the field (10%); Doing important and useful work (10%); and Learning (10%).
- 89% said they found the briefing information about volunteer opportunities ‘useful’ or ‘very useful’; and 93% rated the information provided for preparing for a placement as ‘fully adequate’ or ‘adequate’.
- 57% said ‘other commitments’ or a ‘lack of time’ prevented them from taking-up more volunteering activities than they currently do. Another 18% said that distance to our reserves was also a barrier to many volunteering opportunities.
- Although 56% of the respondents said they didn’t experience any problems with their volunteer placement, the survey still provided an excellent mechanism to collect feedback on key issues and how things might be improved in areas such as communication, safety, training and task preparation, and receiving feedback.
The Volunteer Advisory Committee will be working with staff (especially with National Volunteer Program Coordinator Michelle Stook and Community Engagement Officers Leanne Hales and Sarah Luxton) to look at all of the issues raised, the areas where we can make further improvements, and to put a set of recommendations through to management. We're sure the survey, and all of the comments from respondents, will ensure continual improvement in the volunteering experience.
Volunteer photo competition
The Volunteer Advisory Committee has also recently wrapped-up the 2018 Volunteer Photo Competition. Congratulations to the overall winner Brad Maryan, from Western Australia, for his winning entry of a Mengden's Brown Snake, taken on Hamelin Station Reserve. You can check-out Brad’s winning photo, and indeed all of the competition photos sent-in by volunteers on our website.
Thanks to our ambassador, Steve Parish, who had the difficult task of judging the competition winners from among the plethora of fantastic images. The competition was the ‘brainchild’ of VAC member Nicolla (Nicky) Rolls, who has been volunteering with Bush Heritage for more than a decade.
“As a volunteer I have been fortunate to work on a number of reserves and see first-hand what we are all striving to achieve. I have enjoyed stunning sunsets over sand dunes at Craven’s Peak, seen Greater Gliders whilst spot-lighting on Yourka Reserve, and ‘weeded with a view’ atop sandstone escarpments at Carnarvon Station Reserve.
“For those unable to volunteer or travel to the reserves, photographic images are a perfect way to showcase the landscapes and ecosystems that Bush Heritage helps to protect and manage. That is how the idea of a Volunteer Photographic Competition came about.”
The Volunteer Advisory Committee was established by Bush Heritage Australia in 2016 to provide a formal platform for our volunteers to provide advice on volunteer-related policy development, feedback to improve volunteer operations, and the development of new and engaging volunteer activities.
Find out more about volunteering.