Celebrating the Unsung Heroes - National Volunteer Week 2024

Celebrating the Unsung Heroes - National Volunteer Week 2024

May 23, 2024

Community Sport
Running from the 20th until the 26th of May 2024, National Volunteer Week recognises the vital role that volunteers play in our community, celebrates the impact they have, and encourages individuals to begin volunteering if they aren’t already. This year, the theme ‘Something for Everyone’ highlights the diverse talents and passions that people bring to volunteering and the different drivers that people have.

Something for Everyone

On the theme, Volunteering Australia states:

“It’s an invitation to explore the myriad of opportunities available, emphasising that there’s a place for everyone in the world of volunteering. Whether you’re drawn to environmental causes, community outreach, education, or beyond, there’s a place where your unique skills and interests can flourish.”

While volunteering is crucial across many industries, community sport in Australia is uniquely reliant on the time and goodwill of volunteers. Without their dedication, many sporting clubs would cease to exist, and some of our nation’s greatest athletes might never have achieved their sporting success. Beyond community sport, volunteers are essential for the smooth running of major sporting events such as National and World Championships/Cups, the Commonwealth Games, and even the Olympics and Paralympics.

To put into perspective just how vital volunteering in sport is in Australia, Clearinghouse for Sport reports that “in 2022, an estimated 3.4 million Australians participated in non-playing roles in the sport and active recreation sector at least once. Over 90% of these participants (3.1 million) were volunteers.” For many clubs, volunteers make up their coaches, referees and umpires, administrators, board and committee members, and fill many other roles.

Unfortunately, volunteering is on the decline, placing a strain on our community clubs and putting them at risk of closure. Last year, our Your Sport Your Say, Clubs Under Pressure Report revealed that:

  • 63% of clubs listed “not having enough volunteers” as their main challenge.
  • 2 in 3 clubs listed administration load as their 2nd biggest challenge, after a lack of volunteers.
  • In the 12 months prior to the report, 1 in 4 clubs had experienced a decline in volunteers.
  • Clubs reported a 17% decrease in volunteers aged 35-54 years old, highlighting that parents were volunteering less.

For this reason, it’s imperative that we champion, and most importantly, thank our volunteers.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Week, let’s acknowledge the indispensable contributions of volunteers across all sectors, and especially in community sports. Their efforts not only sustain our local clubs but also inspire future generations of athletes. We encourage clubs to take the time this week to express their gratitude to their volunteers. Often, a simple ‘thank you’ is enough.

ASF’s commitment to volunteering

At the Australian Sports Foundation, we recognise the importance of volunteering and are committed to actively participating in volunteer positions.

In 2023, the ASF updated its Employee Value Proposition, placing a high priority on employee wellbeing and social impact. As part of this, employees are given two paid volunteer day annually: one day to volunteer at an organisation of their personal choice, and one day for a yearly ASF team volunteer event where the entire organisation assists at a grassroots community group.

“Connecting to our purpose reminds us why we chose this job, this organisation and this team. It connects us to our own motivations, our collective values and our greater community. ASF has a strong purpose and the passionate people that make up our team have shared values.”

- Jack Connell, ASF Fundraising Support Executive

Recently, the ASF team volunteered at the School Sport Victoria Northern Metropolitan Region Inner North Merri-bek Secondary Track & Field Championships, at Collingwood Athletics Track in Melbourne. This event offered an incredible opportunity to connect with the students from 11 different schools, provide guidance (and in some cases, sporting expertise), relieve some of the administrative burden for the School Sport Victoria team, and most importantly, give the teachers that would typically be required to fill many of these roles a much-needed break.

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As we continue to support and participate in volunteer activities, we encourage everyone to find their own unique way to contribute. Whether it’s through community sport or another cause close to your heart, your efforts can make a significant difference. There truly is something for everyone.