Published on November 26, 2008
Volunteering: a path to inclusion : Volunteering: a path to inclusion Angela Dew, Gwynnyth Llewellyn, Susan Balandin & Liora Ballin Faculty of Health Sciences Who Volunteers? : Who Volunteers? Approximately 32% of the Australian population aged 18 years and over are engaged in voluntary work Australian Bureau of Statistics Survey of Voluntary Work, 2000. Why do people volunteer? : Why do people volunteer? To provide benefit to the community; A desire to help others. To benefit themselves; Fulfilling desire to feel useful and needed; Opportunity to engage in social interaction; Productive use of their time. Benefits of volunteering : Benefits of volunteering Meeting others, making friends; Enhancing life satisfaction; Improved physical and mental health; Strengthened sense of well-being. Under-representation of people with disabilities as volunteers : Under-representation of people with disabilities as volunteers Increased life expectancy of people with longstanding disability; 17,000 PWD in supported employment services in Australia; One third (1/3) of these are over 45 years old; How will they spend their time when they retire from paid work? Three components to the study : Three components to the study Interviews with AFFORD Business Services employees with longstanding disabilities; Focus group with Volunteer Resource Centre coordinators; Focus groups with managers of volunteer-involving organisations; Aims of the study : Aims of the study To determine what older employees with disabilities currently working in supported employment, Volunteer Resource Coordinators, and volunteer involving-agencies perceived as the opportunities for and barriers to people with longstanding disabilities undertaking voluntary work. Participants : Participants Data Collection Methods : Data Collection Methods Opportunities : Opportunities Quote from volunteer-involving agency : Quote from volunteer-involving agency “We want the volunteer to go home at the end of the day and feel, from what they’ve been doing, that they have made a real contribution. Their work has really mattered”. Quote from a worker with a disability : Quote from a worker with a disability “[Doing voluntary work] makes me feel excellent. You know, when you do something for someone else, you can get all your own insecurities and they just go out the window. Because you’ve done something that really makes you feel good about serving others. It really gives you a sense of achievement; to lift yourself about your own downfalls. I must say, that voluntary work has given me enormous strength and patience”. Barriers : Barriers Quote from a worker with a disability : Quote from a worker with a disability “See I worked there [at a nursing home] and then I went to have some help [for depression]. They [nursing home] encouraged me with that idea and they encouraged me to come back afterwards. They were happy with my work because they kept giving me extra shifts but when I came out and I came back for the job they said ‘No, because of your background, we don’t want you’. I don’t think that was fair”. Quote from VRC Coordinator : Quote from VRC Coordinator “I had some volunteers with disabilities who used to deliver Meals on Wheels and they had cerebral palsy. Their disability was very obvious, they walked with difficulty, they had walking sticks and things. And some of the older people, their attitude was ‘Oh, they’re sick. Why are they delivering Meals on Wheels to me?’” Summary : Summary People with disabilities have skills which they can apply to volunteer roles; People with disabilities are applying for volunteer positions (20%); There are environmental, infrastructure and social barriers to people with disabilities volunteering. Challenges for the future : Challenges for the future To ensure that people with a disability, Volunteer Resource Centres and volunteer-involving agencies have the skills to make volunteering a successful experience for all concerned. How to meet those challenges : How to meet those challenges Training PWD VRCs & Volunteer-involving agencies Mentoring Existing volunteers and PWD Partnerships University of Sydney and AFFORD University of Sydney and Volunteering NSW Acknowledgements : Acknowledgements The participants in this study: the 14 employees with disabilities, 16 VRC coordinators and 7 managers of volunteer-involving agencies; AFFORD (Australian Foundation for the Disabled); Volunteering NSW.