Volunteering needs helpful Government policies
Volunteering New Zealand is calling on all Government agencies to mark International Volunteer Day, Monday 5 December, by ensuring their policies and procedures encourage and enhance volunteering.
“Government has major challenges to address in realising its commitment to volunteering as outlined in the 2002 ‘Government Policy on Volunteering’,” said Alison Marshall, Chairperson of Volunteering New Zealand.
“For example, the recent increases in petrol prices have resulted in anecdotal reports of volunteers deciding it is becoming too costly for them to continue in their current volunteering role.
“In many instances, volunteers can be and are reimbursed for expenses such as travel costs. However this does not apply in all situations. The basic cost of travelling from the volunteer’s home to the place where the volunteer duties take place is not currently an allowable reimbursement. It is an issue we hope that Inland Revenue and other agencies will address,” said Ms Marshall.
“Volunteers on boards and committees are also facing increased compliance requirements, including those about to be introduced by the new Charities Commission,” said Ms Marshall, “we want to work with Government to ensure that any barriers to people volunteering their time and experience are eliminated or minimised.”
Ms Marshall said this would assist in ensuring there was no reduction in the very significant contribution which volunteers and voluntary organisations contribute to New Zealand.
“This contribution has been demonstrated in the Value Added by Voluntary Agencies (VAVA) report published last year. This report of 10 national social service agencies, found that the groups returned between $3 and $5 worth of services for every $1 they received in funding. The report estimated that voluntary workers, from all strata of responsibility, work the equivalent of 4063 fulltime workers per year.
“The combined value of their work in 2002 was estimated at $126 million dollars. They are just 10 of the thousands of tangata whenua, community and voluntary sector organisations who are contributing in many ways and in all areas of New Zealand’s community life every day. The full contribution of them all must be billions of dollars,” Ms Marshall said.