Volunteer Manager Network Meeting: Engaging CALD Volunteers

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On the 1 August, Volunteering Queensland hosted a Volunteer Manager Network Meeting in Logan City. This informative gathering served to facilitate discussion and address a challenge that many volunteer managers face: Understanding how to engage volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD).

Outlined below are key highlights from the meeting; they address some of the most common misconceptions or concerns surrounding CALD volunteers, as well as, practical ideas on how to overcome these barriers.

Engaging volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

People from all walks of life, and various cultural backgrounds, make an important contribution to the volunteering sector. Each comes with their own unique set of values and skills to serve clients and positively impact the communities around them. These volunteers should not be overlooked simply because of uncertainties that surround how to involve them.

Engaging CALD volunteers bridges the culture gap by providing fresh prospective and raising cultural awareness and cohesion.

Challenges of engaging volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

It can be daunting for volunteer managers to address and overcome the challenges related to developing strong recruitment processes and relations with CALD volunteers.

These challenges include:

  • Language barriers
  • Distribution of information
  • Workplace health and safety risks
  • Technological understanding and expectations
  • Channels to attract volunteers

Overcoming challenges of engaging volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

To overcome the above challenges, it is important that volunteer-involving organisations and volunteer managers ensure the workplace culture is accepting of diversity. Flexible management processes, such as simplifying or reducing formalities and providing additional support can greatly benefit CALD volunteers. Furthermore, investing in induction and cross-culture training for both employees and volunteers will ensure volunteers feel respected and understood.

By valuing CALD volunteers, volunteers are able to act as "culture champions" and showcase the benefits of volunteerism, as well as, widen the reach to potential volunteers.

Retention of volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Although it may sound obvious, the most effective way to retain CALD volunteers is to acknowledge and recognise them. Allow any training to be structured around their proficiencies, needs, desired opportunities and regular feedback. When creating organisational processes, remember that CALD volunteers are often seeking to do some good and make a genuine contribution. They are there for the same reason as any volunteer, and benefit from being treated as such.

A special thank you to Michael Tawadros from ACCESS Community Services for his presentation on strategies to assist in engaging CALD volunteers and diverse community groups.

Thank you everyone who attended and participated at the Logan meeting!