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Emergency volunteering: Leading engagement and retention
When fires, floods, and other disasters strike, Australians around the country rely on the rapid, coordinated, and skilled services of emergency response organisations. The network of emergency response organisations covering the nation is composed, predominantly, of volunteers. For instance, there are currently around 162 thousand firefighters in Australia and 90 per cent of them are volunteers. From road crash rescues, beach patrol, firefighting, and dealing with national disasters, emergency response volunteers show up on people's worst days and provide their unpaid, professional assistance. However, against the backdrop of the increasing demand for emergency services, in 2020, the Australian General Social Survey recorded the lowest volunteering rate on record. In addition, most emergency response organisations, are facing a worsening volunteer turnover rate. Concerns that sociodemographic changes such as work-family lifestyle, rural population decline, and preference for more flexible volunteer participation, seem to be coming to fruition and amplifying the problem.
On a positive note, most emergency response organisations, scholars, and other stakeholders are aware of the challenges and continue working up possible solutions. But inevitably, tackling these challenges involves structural changes, which require comprehensive strategic planning that is long-term in nature.
Publication titleVolunteering Research Papers - Round 1
Commissioning bodyVolunteering Australia
Department/SchoolCollege Office - College of Business and Economics
Place of publicationAustralia