What is volunteering and why should you think about doing it?
Volunteering is about giving back to your community without expecting anything in return. It is part of the Australian’s philosophy of ‘mate ship’ to give a helping hand to those who are in need. For us migrants, it is also a way of connecting with the broader community and learning more about our new country.
I know that many migrants volunteer within their own ethnic community because they feel comfortable doing it and because it helps them to pave the way for new migrants, making it easier for them to integrate. Many migrant mothers do tuck-shop duties in school canteens but have you thought about what other opportunities there are to volunteers in the community?
The recent bushfires south of Sydney (and in other parts of Australia) were terrifying as many people were evacuated with the fear of losing of their homes, pets and even livestock.
Organisations such as the Illawong NSW Rural Fire Service and the NSW State Emergency Services (SES) worked hard through the night to save the homes from the devastating bushfires which were creeping into the suburbs. But did you know that many of these fire fighters were volunteers?
Volunteers also helped to bring food to the evacuation centre to feed both the firefighters and the residents who had been evacuated.
There was one instance where a man helped to put out the fire on his neighbour’s home when he was away from home. That is the Australian spirit – helping a mate out – even when they are not there.
So, why would you volunteer? What are the benefits?
- have the satisfaction of having helped others
- meet people and make new friends
- get to know your neighbours (including anglo-Australians) – breakdown cultural barriers
- develop new skills in working together (co-operation)
- show leadership in your community
- introduce new ideas and experience from your home country.
I have heard from many migrants that job applications are rejected on the basis on not having local experience. By volunteering, you could add this local experience to your CV to demonstrate your pro-activeness in making a positive contribution to an organisation or the community.
For example, if you are a qualified engineer, you could perhaps help the SES with some new ideas of removing fallen trees over bridges or power lines. Or if you have medical knowledge you could volunteer to help in hospitals, health centres or rehabilitation facilities.
There are many places you can volunteer your services.
Go to www.volunteeringaustralia.org/ or check out what’s needed in your local area. You can also approach organisations directly or check their websites to find out about what volunteer opportunities are available. Why not start with your local Regional Fire Service? www.rfs.nsw.gov.au
If you can’t find a job to suit your skills why not join a volunteer group and make use of your skills while you are waiting? That way, you can learn more about Australia, help your local community and even help out a mate. Who knows, you might need the help of a volunteer yourself one day.
START VOLUNTEERING TODAY!
Soraya Raju, CEO & Founder of Migrate Success.