Building an inclusive volunteer program

October 25, 2021

Georgie Boucher, the Grants Support Team member who looks after our hard-working volunteers, attended the recent Volunteering Victoria workshop on ‘Building an Inclusive Volunteer Program’. She was inspired by what she learnt and has shared some of the key takeaways below.

The workshop focused on how to develop and maintain a truly inclusive volunteer program. It was not only inspiring, but provided me with some practical tools to continue building our team of CBF volunteers so that it truly reflects the diversity of the community media sector.

Participating in the workshop helped me take CBF’s ‘inclusion temperature’ and also made me think about the differences between ‘diversity box-ticking’ and true inclusion. In other words, ensuring the CBF has the structures and culture in place to welcome and include people from many backgrounds.

What does this look like in practice?

  • Consult, consult, consult – people from diverse backgrounds are the experts on how they want to be included, so respectfully ask them how.
  • The key components of addressing inclusion within a volunteer program include examining your organisation’s infrastructure (recruitment, record-keeping), support and supervision, relationship-building and the development of a positive volunteer culture.
  • Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being ‘asked to dance’.
  • True cultural competence is valuing diversity for the richness and creativity it brings to our lives and communities.
  • While colloquial language in communications can be accessible to some, it can be incomprehensible to others.
  • Examining the culture of your organisation means asking if your leaders, staff and volunteers are all on board with committing to inclusion and providing the appropriate training where necessary.
  • Being truly inclusive means developing an active strategy through such practices as researching your local demographics, consulting with community leaders, providing face-to-face opportunities and translation where necessary.
  • Organisations should constantly examine what the barriers are to volunteering.
  • It’s important to create a culturally safe environment for your volunteers.

Inclusion and the CBF

Did you know we have current priorities for affirmative action within our organisational structure including on the CBF Board, Grants Advisory committees and Assessor Team? These are outlined in our Diversity, Access and Equity Policy which sets a target of 40% women or gender diverse people. Our current rate on our Board and Grants Advisory committees is 50%.

One of the CBF’s core values is a commitment to being inclusive – ensuring everything we do helps create connection and belonging throughout our diverse community. We are always looking for ways to better understand what inclusivity means for us and for the sector, and learn more about how we can do this better at the CBF. As part of this commitment, we run compulsory cultural competency training for all Board, committee and staff members. We are also reviewing our current processes, as well as asking our applicants and volunteers what works, what doesn’t, and what they need.

Resources and further information

There are lots of organisations around the country that can provide you with advice and support if you’d like to involve more volunteers from diverse backgrounds at your organisation – including people with a disability, from a culturally and linguistically diverse background, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people and LGBTQI+ people. As a starting point, here are a few organisations you could try based in Victoria and the ACT: