The State Executive of CWA of NSW are meeting this week in Sydney to deal with the ongoing management of the association, including the issues of rising insurance costs on Branch buildings and the increasing burdens of new WH&S regulations.
These issues and requirements place immense pressure on volunteer organisations and governments need to understand that the huge contribution volunteers make to their communities is under threat of collapse because of continued changes to regulations.
As one of Australia’s iconic and longest serving community based groups the Country Women’s Association of NSW provides an example of membership trends over the decades that have, sadly, declined, even though Australia has a larger population, but then there are also more causes to join.
Last time I looked at Australian Bureau of Statistic (ABS) figures the number of people giving up their time had not changed greatly. What had changed, as I’ve said, was the number of organisations but more significantly, the number of hours each person was prepared to commit. Within different age groups there were some increases but almost every category showed that the number of hours available to volunteer had dropped significantly.
Presumably this is, in part, a reflection of our time poor lives, but it begs the question; why can’t we, like other groups, make use of new technologies and different methodologies to change our processes and encourage more participants? Am I being naïve in my thinking? Probably, but nothing ventured nothing gained! Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You can never solve a problem with the same kind of thinking that created the problem in the first place”.
Organisations can continue to remind governments about the onerous obligations continually being placed on their members but at the same time we could be striving to change the things we CAN control.
Ideas that might be “outside the square”, but within an organisations aims or mission, should be encouraged and at least trialled because supporting each other is part of the ethos that attracts and keeps people volunteering.