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Training a Wider Membership Spectrum

volunteering-reimagined-banner_1366x500.jpgAs part of the AFAC 2017 conference held in Sydney last month, I saw a presentation by NSW SES about their new vision for membership types – aptly named Volunteering Reimagined. For further information check out:

Many Emergency Services in Australia already have different types of members for which they need to manage training, assessment and currency:

  • Full time
  • Part time
  • Retained/Casual
  • Volunteer

NSW SES now highlights the further variety of volunteers that can support the organisation during emergencies, including:

  • Spontaneous Volunteers (as also highlighted by recent Australasian research)
  • Corporate Volunteers
  • Community Action Teams (casual volunteers)

While there is much to be appreciated about their reasons and goals for this new vision, as a trainer I immediately had a ton of questions about the practicalities of managing a new spectrum of members. In particular I wondered:

What is the impact at the local and regional levels?
  • How will trainers and assessors need to adapt training calendars and general availability of training to meet all the needs?
  • Will there be a need for more trainers and assessors (is there increased workload)?
  • Will some of these new volunteers actually not need “offical” trainers or assessors to complete their training? Is there new roles for some keen and experienced members to take the lead?
What is the impact at the State level?
    • Do existing training materials need to be recreated in different ways to meet the needs of new volunteer types?
    • What role (if any) does nationally accredited training play in any new training that needs to be developed?
    • What training and assessment records need to be maintained for new volunteer types, and will the current system manage this?

Some other ideas that excitedly started running around my brain included:

  • What a great chance to develop some training that really focuses on the ‘need to know’ rather than the ‘nice to know’
  • What a great chance to roll out training in a way that is accessible for the ‘just in time’ rather than the ‘just in case’
  • What a great chance to utilise all the buddy trainers that currently exist inside an organisation – because quite a few of these new volunteers could potentially be learning on the job
  • Here’s a good chance to see how brave members inside an organisation can be: how will everyone respond to this change? There will definitely be some real change champions and case studies to come out of this! (Maybe next AFAC Conference??)

I’m sure there will be many aside from myself who look forward to seeing how NSW SES Volunteering Reimagined becomes reality! Hopefully there are highlights and lessons learned to help others consider how things could look in their own organisation.

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