The Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre (EVRC) is a not for profit organisation established in 1976, which provides volunteer assistance and community transport for people living in the Cities of Maroondah and Whitehorse and the Shire of Yarra Ranges. Eastern Volunteers works in partnership with all levels of government, peak volunteer organisations, other volunteer resource centres and a wide range of community service organisations and businesses.

The EVRC main office is located in Ringwood with small part-time outreach offices are located at Box Hill and Lilydale. It has 14 part-time staff; about 100 volunteers assisting in program delivery and a volunteer-based Committee of Management. The organisation provides transport services for people with disabilities and the frail aged, home and community care services and the recruitment, training and referral of volunteers.

I was invited to speak at the AGM of the Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre to discuss the partnership that exists between the City of Maroondah and the Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre. The City of Maroondah is truly blessed to have such an active organisation recruiting, training and developing volunteers, resulting in a stronger and more engaged community.

Please continue reading to view the speech I delivered at the 2007 EVRC AGM.

I would like to thank the Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre for allowing me the opportunity to officiate their Annual General Meeting and to speak about the partnership that exists between Maroondah City Council and the Eastern Volunteers Resource Centre.

I believe the vision of EVRC says it all about its commitment to volunteerism with ‘Eastern Volunteers – leading the way in community services’ and we are fortunate to have such a solid organisation harnessing volunteers and working in partnership with Maroondah Council and other organisations.

Demand for volunteers continues to grow as does the number of people seeking volunteering positions. I understand that 715 prospective volunteers were interviewed over the past year. Eastern Volunteers recruits volunteers, provides training on rights and responsibilities and duty of care and refers volunteers to over 350 community organisations. Volunteers are recruited to work with a wide range of agencies in areas such as children’s services, youth work, aged care, emergency services, conservation, arts and heritage, animal welfare and fundraising.

It is great to see Maroondah supporting the wonderful work EVRC undertakes, through a partnership that involves many forms:

EVRC receives an annual community grant from council, this is a general purpose grant which is used by EVRC to assist in volunteer promotion, recruitment, training and referral services. This grant also helps EVRC support staff working with volunteers; and helps in transport of Maroondah residents who are transport disadvantaged but are yet not eligible for Home and Community Care support. It is often a sad reflection that there some people that fall through the cracks and fortunately this funding helps EVRC provide service to people who would otherwise be ineligible.

EVRC and the City of Maroondah are also working together to promote National Volunteer Week, an event that is held to celebrate volunteerism. There has been much discussion and preparation throughout this year and this will work towards achieving a number of activities during National Volunteer Week in 2008. Other groups including Neighbourhood Houses will hopefully also be part of this program to ensure that we can demonstrate the many worthy causes that exist throughout Maroondah.

National Volunteer Week will be held from 12th to the 18th of May – so please do watch this space.

Complementing the partnership that exists at an operational level, EVRC are also involved with Council at a strategic level, through participation on the Maroondah Partners in Health, Wellbeing and Safety Committee. This committee includes a number of key agencies, including the Victorian Police, VicRoads, Connex, the Department of Human Services and the Whitehorse Division of General Practice and provides the opportunity to share knowledge, discuss issues with other key groups and to provide input into council strategies.

EVRC is also assisting in a great initiative being undertaken by Maroondah Police known as the Seniors Welfare Register and in fact discussions around the register originated form the Partners in Health, Wellbeing and Safety Committee. The register which will operate out of Croydon Police Station will provide regular contact with seniors who register with the program to hep reduce the crippling effects of social isolation. A volunteer-based Committee of Management has been formed with also involves Maroondah City Council; Margaret Finch of EVRC is Minute Secretary. EVRC is of course also assisting to recruit volunteers for program.

These are a few examples of the ongoing partnership and collaboration that exists between Maroondah City Council and EVRC. While it is certainly great to reflect on these areas it is also important to look forward to the future and to see other areas where collaboration should occur.

This is rather timely given that EVRC has recently revised its constitution or association rules, to ensure a solid foundation for the future.

For me, I personally believe there needs to be collaboration between EVRC and Maroondah in finding suitable long-term office accommodation for the organisation. I believe that the role EVRC undertakes in encouraging volunteerism and providing recruitment and referral services is critical to ensuring a vibrant and healthy community.

While it could be argued that EVRC should undertake this effort on its own, if EVRC was not active within Maroondah then ultimately the burden of finding, training and nuturing volunteers would fall on council and would obviously place a further burden directly on Maroondah in terms of costs and resources. It would also mean more than likely less volunteers overall, therefore placing further stress on the current pool of committed volunteers.

Maroondah is truly blessed to have the main offices of EVRC located within this municipality and there is strength in having an independent organisation such as EVRC which is seen as friendly and approachable. People are often more reluctant to approach a council than they are in approaching an organisation that is focused on volunteers such as EVRC and this obviously provides a great benefit to our community overall.

The quest for office accommodation is not going to be an easy task but partnerships are a two-way street and we need to offer our support in ensuring that EVRC remains within Maroondah. I look forward to working with the board over the next twelve months to advance these partnerships into the future.

Alex Makin

Alex Makin

Alex Makin is a councillor for the Mullum Ward in the City of Maroondah. Alex has been a councillor since 2005, representing ratepayers, businesses, community groups and residents. I aim to continue making a difference and welcome any thoughts you may have in regard to life, community and business in Maroondah. Phone: (03) 9870 8202 or 0408 311 645 Email: alex@alexmakin.com.au

One Comment

Leave a Reply