Each year, millions of people just like you volunteer their time and skills to help our communities.

Volunteering Australia is the national peak body for volunteering, working to advance volunteering in the Australian community.

In NSW, the Centre for Volunteering is the peak body for promoting and supporting volunteering and community participation.

In 2015, Volunteering Australia launched the National Standards for Volunteering in Australia. They provide good practice guidance for organisations around attracting, managing and retaining volunteers. They also directly benefit volunteers by helping to manage risk and ensure safety, and setting standards to improve the volunteer experience.

You can download a copy of the standards here.

Our organisations depend upon our volunteers, and the Hub may refer to our volunteers as workers – as they are undertaking unpaid work. The Hub is guided by Volunteering Australia’s definition of volunteering: ‘Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.’ For more information, please see Volunteering Australia.

Mental health and self care

Looking after yourself while volunteering is just as important as looking after others. Working with people who have fled their homelands can be challenging. Stories of war, of violence, of fear and grief are common. It can be frustrating when laws or policies don’t allow us to help the way we’d like to. And, like any work that involves caring about others, it can be tough mentally, physically and emotionally.

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Support is always available for you, and your Volunteer Coordinator is right there for you to talk to if you’re having any problems.

Similarly, look out for your fellow volunteers. A simple “R U OK?” can begin that conversation to check how someone’s going. If you’re worried about another volunteer, let your Volunteer Coordinator know. Talking about things is always the first step to making things better.

Here are some other resources we at the Hub find useful for life.

Lifeline 13 11 14 – they’re available to chat, 24/7

Beyond Blue – has great resources for support

STARTTS – NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Survivors of Torture and Trauma

STARTTS provide wonderful treatment and support for refugees and people seeking asylum. But they also offer fantastic training and resources for workers and volunteers.

Mental Health First Aid – practical training and resources

The Black Dog Institute – a great range of information, research and support services including a free app, Snapshot, designed to help adults manage depression and anxiety.

Headspace also has a free Meditation app, designed to guide you through everyday meditation and mindfulness.