Resilient People, Infrastructure and Institutions

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Ngarkat research volunteers
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Project Status:

Significant time and money is invested in volunteers by agencies. Retaining volunteers saves substantial time and resources, increasing the capacity of individual brigades and units. Two areas contributing to the problem of retention have been attributed to poor leadership and cultural value alignment.The project has several aims but the core issues addressed are:

1. Retaining volunteers beyond their initial training period.

2. Increasing the skills acquisition of emergency service brigades and units.

The project has a blog, which can be accessed at http://www.uowblogs.com/evp/

The Australian emergency service landscape is on the cusp of change. On the one hand the frequency and impact of natural disasters is on the increase, while on the other hand the volunteer workforce who are available and able to assist communities during these crises is reducing.

A large part of the problem in retaining volunteers has been attributed to poor volunteer leadership. Volunteers are far less tolerant of poor leadership than they would be in paid occupations. Therefore effective leadership skills need to be developed to maintain effective volunteer capacity.

This project is developing a program to prepare brigade leaders and unit controllers to create more effective leadership environments. Using leading edge concepts of leadership (Self-Determination Theory and Emotional Intelligence) leaders will be able to foster volunteer environments and relationships that will empower volunteers, increase their connectedness and unlock individual competencies. Participants in the program will learn what a leader can do to improve the quality of the volunteer experience and increase the motivation, wellbeing, and retention of volunteers.

The project has a blog, which can be accessed at http://www.uowblogs.com/evp/ 

SES volunteers performing a rescue in bushland. Photo by ACT SES.
10 July, 2015
A recently released Hazard Note gives an overview of the Sustainable volunteering cluster of research projects.
RFS volunteer. Photo: Damien Ford NSW RFS
9 February, 2015
This update provides news on the four streams of research in the Emergency volunteering project.
22 October, 2014
New research is focused on retaining active emergency services volunteers, and better engaging untrained ‘informal’ volunteers who offer to help when incidents and natural disasters happen.
12 Aug 2016

Using the principles of diversity acceptance and organisational inclusive behaviour

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