Volunteers for the Family Centre and the Mobile Men's Shed are Rob Grime (back) and Bill Taylor (front).
Volunteers for the Family Centre and the Mobile Men's Shed are Rob Grime (back) and Bill Taylor (front). David Nielsen

The changing role of volunteers

CO-ORDINATING volunteers at the Men's and Family Centre in Lismore is a two-day a week job for Rob Grimes.

And while there are many regulations and requirements set down by the NSW Government for volunteer organisations, Mr Grimes is reluctant to call those regulations 'red tape'.

“I would class it as guidelines to help us recruit, train and retain volunteers able to do the type of work we do here,” Mr Grimes said.

“Most volunteers don't mind the training and the meetings.

“And if they do, then they may have misunderstood what is required of them.

“Volunteering is not like it used be. Years ago a volunteer could just come along when they wanted, but there is a responsibility attached to being a volunteer.”

In a speech to Australia Day crowds at Ballina and Byron Bay, State Member for Ballina Don Page said it would be a shame if government red tape strangled volunteer organisations.

Mr Page said long-serving Brunswick Valley Rescue Squad member Rob Goodacre resigned from the squad just before Christmas, citing stress related to constant fundraising, training, meetings and paperwork.

“There is a fantastic tradition of volunteering in Australia and that should not be endangered by wrapping it up in bureaucracy,” he said.

“I understand the need for training and standards, but the way things are trending we need to be mindful that volunteers are precisely that and they don't have to do it.”

Mr Grimes said supervising and training volunteers was very important.

“There are reasons people volunteer and what our organisation offers them has to satisfy that reason,” he said.

“And that volunteer also has to meet the needs of our organisation so when that need or reason is not there for either party, then that is when a volunteer may leave.”



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