HOT TOPIC – SEPTEMBER 2007
By OzVPM Director, Andy Fryar
Later this month, 50 volunteer managers from Australia , New Zealand and the USA will meet in Tasmania for the 3rd Australasian Retreat for Advanced Volunteer Management.
If the last two retreat experiences are anything to go by, the three days we are together in Hobart will be a time filled with energy, enthusiasm and a real commitment to our sector. Not only will this be a time to reflect and recharge, it will also be an opportunity to create some tangible actions for the profession of volunteer management that collectively, we can all work towards.
At the very first retreat, held in Canberra in 2005, the delegates adopted the catchphrase of ‘Not just 50 / Not just three’. This identified the desire of participants that the retreat experience should never just be about the people who are lucky enough to attend (there were 50 at the first retreat) or the three days they are all together. Rather, it should be an experience which has a ripple effect within the profession right throughout Australia and New Zealand and even further abroad.
As we prepare for the third retreat, there is a sense that much has been accomplished since that time. There is an ever growing core of volunteer management professionals in our region who are committed to growing the work that we all do. AAVA, the Australasian Association for Volunteer Administrators, continues to develop and grow and become more focused on their mission. Resources available for volunteer managers, both online and physical, continue to be developed.
At the same time, reliance on volunteers to deliver critical services continues to grow, often without even a sideways glance for the needs of volunteer management practices within that spectrum. The red tape continues to get thicker, technology is getting faster and volunteers themselves more fickle about who, why and when they will give their time.
So for this month’s hot topic, I wanted to pick up the ‘Not just 50 / Not just three’ mandate and give those of you who will not be at this year’s retreat the opportunity to put your hot topics and issues on the table for us to discuss in Hobart. This is your chance to be involved, even though you can’t be there physically.
So, what are the issues you would like to have considered as a part of our Hobart deliberations?
Remember, the theme of this year’s retreat is ‘Positioning Our Profession” and our discussions will largely focus on this topic. Are there issues about the way we are (or should be) positioned that you would like to air?
Your comments may be in relation to:
- How we are positioned in response to the changing needs & availability of volunteers?
- Our self image
- Available resources and training for volunteer management
- The role of AAVA as your professional Association
- The role of Volunteer Centres
- The role of government in positioning our profession
- The direction you think we should be heading in
- Dangers and perils you think the profession should avoid
Whatever your thoughts, we would love to hear them and invite you to share them through this month’s hot topic column. We certainly promise to take them on board as we prepare for the Hobart event.
Response posted by DJ Cronin, President, Australasian Association for Volunteer Administrators, Brisbane, Australia
Forgive me if you will for responding as an attendee to the next retreat. But I still fear we are suffering from the “Silence Syndrome”. I know of no other website like this in Australasia that offers a forum for Volunteer Program Managers to speak out, debate the issues and put in their own two bobs worth! Yet responses to Hot Topics can be sparse to say the least. I have always argued that the advancement of the sector cannot be left to the consistent few. The voice of the sector cannot be spoken by the same voice lest they get hoarse. The Retreat does provide a forum where a group dedicated to positioning the sector can listen to what the sector is saying and can formulate plans for our future. My last check indicates that this site or rather the OzVPM yahoo list has 400 members. Writing a piece can of course be a challenge. Who, apart from the experts, doesn’t worry about how they articulate themselves or what others may think of their writing style or indeed views! Write anyway! Got something to say but fear others may disagree? Say it anyway! My point of view is that there are no silly points of view! They are just that – a point of view that can be digested by others who may or may not take on board what you have to say. Vincent van Gogh once told us that if we ever hear a voice within that tells us we cannot paint, then we should by all means paint and the voice will be silenced!
There are people who are dedicated to improving the lot of the volunteer manager in terms of giving our profession a voice plus recognition and support for what we do. But we need a louder voice. And more voices combined create more noise. And people notice noise! Here, on this forum, is another opportunity for VPMs to have an input into the forthcoming retreat. I hope that this opportunity will not go begging.
“You think that your silence on certain topics, perhaps in the face of injustice, or unkindness, or mean-spiritedness, causes others to reserve judgement of you. Far otherwise; your silence utters very loud: you have no oracle to speak, no wisdom to offer, and your fellow men have learned that you cannot help them. Doth not wisdom cry, and understanding put forth her voice? We would be well to do likewise.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson