Published works

Published works

Out of uniform: building community resilience through non-traditional volunteering: Annual project report 2015-2016

TitleOut of uniform: building community resilience through non-traditional volunteering: Annual project report 2015-2016
Publication TypeReport
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsHandmer, J, McLennan, BJ, Whittaker, J
Document Number220
Date Published09/2016
InstitutionBushfire and Natural Hazards CRC
Report Number220

The traditional model of emergency volunteering in Australia is based on formal, accredited volunteers who are affiliated with emergency management organisations, and are mostly involved in response and recovery roles.

This form of volunteering is crucial and has many strengths. However, management models based solely on this form of volunteering exclude the potentially large number of people who are motivated to volunteer before, during and after emergencies in other, unaffiliated, less ongoing and/or more informal ways. Failing to plan for engagement with this wider range of emergency volunteers means that important opportunities for EMOs to help build community resilience.

At the same time, the landscape of volunteering is changing significantly. As a result, emergency managers can expect to engage with a much wider and more diverse range of volunteering that brings new opportunities but also risks.

Why is it important?

Other forms of volunteering that are ‘non-traditional’ for the emergency management sector are: 1) on the rise, 2) inevitable, and 3) have great potential for increasing the sector’s workforce surge capacity and for building community resilience are missed.

The topic is a new concern for most agencies, and there is little published research. There is awareness, however, of the need to plan for non-traditional volunteers, to move away from ad hoc approaches, and to capitalise on non-traditional volunteering to a greater extent in the future.   

How is the project addressing it?

The Out of Uniform: building community resilience through non-traditional emergency volunteering project supports the development of more inclusive strategies for volunteer engagement for the emergency management sector.

Key contributions from the project towards this goal include:

  • Reviews of 1) the state of knowledge regarding informal volunteerism in disasters, and 2) key trends in volunteering and implications for the emergency management sector (completed).
  • Case studies of non-traditional emergency volunteering in action across preparedness, response and recovery (partially completed).
  • A strategic decision support tool for emergency management organisations and managers to assist in the assessment of alternative strategies for engaging with non-traditional volunteers (in progress).
  • Targeted communication materials to inform and raise awareness about key issues in this new and emerging area (in progress).
  • Input to policy and strategic planning processed via direct stakeholder- researcher engagement, and stakeholder use of written outputs. 

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