There IS such a thing as a free lunch – if you are a volunteer!

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More than 18 agencies joined forces to thank Brisbane volunteers for their contribution to the aged care and disability sectors by organising Brisbane’s first Volunteer Leadership Forum.

The Volunteer Leadership Forum, held on Friday 25 August 2017 and hosted by Griffith University’s Southbank Campus, was a day of professional development training to build volunteer skills, meet others in similar roles, receive gifts and prizes of appreciation, and share in a delicious lunch. 

More than 70 Volunteers jumped at the chance to attend the forum and gain insights from experts to assist them in their volunteer positions, with some travelling from Mount Tamborine, the Gold Coast and Ipswich. Presentations and workshops included - Understanding Dementia, Cultural Inclusion, Driver Safety, and Self-Care.

Volunteers at the forum were also invited to share their views on volunteering. 

When asked about the benefits, volunteers described many positive, life-affirming and life-changing experiences gained through their volunteering. These included improved communication skills that have helped in their personal relationships, learning and appreciating differences and similarities between the diverse people who comprise our Queensland community, gaining skills and experiences that led them to paid work, and how volunteering has helped in recovery from physical and mental ill-health.

When asked about what volunteer-involving organisations could do to support, attract and retain their volunteers, suggestions included more training to help them do their jobs better, inviting and listening to feedback from volunteers, a greater variety of volunteer roles including short term and flexible projects, and overwhelmingly, more events such as this leadership forum, including the delicious lunch!

Volunteers attending the forum provide a range of important services to support older people and people with disabilities, including visiting isolated people in their homes or in residential care facilities, cooking meals, day respite activities, transport to medical appointments, administrative support needed to provide the services that are delivered, and more.  

The complimentary forum was generously sponsored by Access Arts, ADA Australia, Blue Care Volunteer Services Metropolitan, Communify, Flexible Living Volunteer Service, Flexicare, Griffith University, Group 61, Nundah Activity Centre, OzCare, PICAC Queensland, QuAC, Star Community Services, Uniting Care Queensland, Volunteer Services Australia, and Volunteering Queensland.

“The way that these agencies worked together is testament to their immense respect for the professionalism of all volunteers in the community sector,” commented Sabina Nowak, Volunteer Services Manager at Volunteering Queensland.  “I can’t wait to see what valuable information, ideas and learnings the forum will deliver when it is held again next year.”