Volunteering is my way of making a difference in young lives.
Volunteers are the backbone of many organisations, including OzChild, and without them many programs and services would cease to exist.
They are crucial to the work that OzChild does, helping support children and families through our Volunteer Family Support Program which is run in conjunction with the Mornington Peninsula and Cardinia Shire Councils.
Members of the community volunteer for many different reasons.
Having MS hasn’t stopped OzChild volunteer Glenn Cleary donating his time, in fact it was the reason he decided to become a volunteer.
“As a person that has had MS for many years, I had been the recipient of assistance from volunteers whether they be, family, friends or other caring members of the community more than once,” Glenn said.
“After completing my Diploma in Community Services which involved some volunteering work with some older intellectually disabled clients and seeing the joy that I was able to bring to them, I decided that I would like to broaden my volunteering experiences.
“I have now been volunteering for over three years with different organisations including OzChild.”
There are many reasons why people volunteer such as personal satisfaction, connection to community, to gain skills, to keep busy when no longer working, and family tradition.
For Glenn, he chose to volunteer with OzChild because he had always enjoyed spending time with children and they seemed to enjoy spending time with him. He wanted to help younger people with their lives, and at the same time give back to the community that were there to help him in his times of need.
“I know how important it is for children to have a good role model in their life and I felt that I would fit that profile,” he said.
Glen spends two hours a week volunteering with OzChild assisting a nine-year-old with the challenges of assimilating to everyday life.
“I am currently playing lots of games - card games, board games, and even a computer game every now and then,” Glenn said
“I have also helped my young friend with building a vegetable garden, spent time playing on the trampoline and just generally having fun,” Glenn said.
While there have been many special moments for Glenn during his time as an OzChild volunteer the one that stands out the most so far was in about the third week as he was doing some gardening and his young friend just out of the blue put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I like you”.
Glenn also volunteers his counselling skills at the Mount Eliza Neighbourhood House where he assists with a program called The Monday Club that runs twice a week to provide social support interaction and development for people in the community who are feeling isolated and lonely.
Glenn said he gets great satisfaction from volunteering.
“I get a great thrill being able to help all sorts of people from my young OzChild friend, people I help through my counselling and my older friends that I get to share lunch and some conversation with every week at the Neighbourhood House,” Glenn said.
Glenn recommends anyone thinking about volunteering to choose an area of volunteering that they will enjoy so that it is fun not work.
“They should stop thinking about becoming a volunteer and just do it, it will be one of the most rewarding things they can ever do,” he said.
If you have a few free hours and thinking of volunteering with OzChild you can find more information on the website.
If you live in the Shire of Cardinia and interested in finding out more about the Positive Horizons Volunteer program, contact Claire Masterson via email.
For the Mornington Peninsula Volunteer program, contact Moira Treacy via email.
Volunteering: a rewarding experience for all involved
Volunteers are the life blood of many organisations, including OzChild. Without them many organisations would not be able to deliver their programs.
In 2016, Australians provided an estimated 932 million hours of their time to their communities.
Like many organisations, OzChild relies on volunteers to help deliver their programs; whether it is the people who put their hands up to be foster carers and kinship carers, or those who support children and families through a range of activities such as mentoring, helping with homework, providing transport to activities and appointments or providing emotional support and company.
Christian Kuck is just one of OzChild’s volunteers working with children and young people on the Mornington Peninsula.
He is currently studying a Diploma of Community Services and through his studies realised that he really wanted to make a difference in his community.
“I wanted to put theory into practice and share what I have learned from my studies, to ultimately give back to the community,” he said.
“I believe that through volunteering I can promote change in a person’s life and assist by focusing on quality of life, creating meaningful experiences and by fulfilling their personal desire.
“I also felt that volunteering would give me the opportunity to gain new skills, network, connect with people and get experience working in the community.”
Christian recommends anyone thinking of volunteering to do their research into the community organisations where they would like to work.
“It is important to find out what training is provided, ongoing assistance and staff support, and even experiences from friends who have also volunteered,” Christian said.
“I had spoken to people who have previously worked at OzChild. They spoke very highly of the organisation in terms of the training they provide, ongoing assistance, staff support, level of expertise and professionalism. From there it was an easy decision for me to make to investigate volunteering at OzChild.”
Christian is currently mentoring a child who is affected by autism.
“I meet with the child weekly and with the help of the staff at OzChild I have developed a plan that will assist him reaching developmental milestones,” Christian said.
“Knowing that even the small amount of time I set aside for my client makes a huge difference to him and the parents, makes it all worthwhile,” he said.
"Looking back from where we’ve started and how far along he has come, it’s a great achievement and inspiration.”
One of Christian’s personal highlights so far has involved helping his client socialise with other children.
“One particular moment sticks out when he told me, “I enjoy it when you come to visit me, because you do what I like”,” Christian said.
“We generally spend time in a local park, play games that he enjoys and have fun. I have encouraged him to play with children his own age, which at first he was reluctant to do. With time and patience, he gradually felt safe interacting with other children and playing became fun regardless of who won or lost the game.”
Volunteering has also helped Christian improve his personal skills, building relationships and improving his networks which he believes will help him have a successful career in the community services sector.
He has also discovered he enjoys working with children.
Christian’s advice to anyone thinking of volunteering – ‘just go for it!’
If you have a few free hours and thinking of volunteering with OzChild you can find more information on the website.
The Mornington Peninsula Shire website also has information on volunteering in the local area.
From the OzChild CEO: National Volunteers Week
Thank you for getting involved and changing lives
As we celebrate and acknowledge the generous contribution of our nation’s volunteers during National Volunteers Week I would particularly like to recognise the work of our volunteers.
Volunteers are the backbone of many organisations, including OzChild.
You generously give your time; your expertise; your love; and your strength and without your help many of our services would cease to exist. We would not be able to provide the care to the children, young people and families who rely on us and whose lives we positively impact.
The work you do might appear to go unnoticed but we appreciate everything you do and the positive impact you make on the children, young people and families in our care. With you in their lives means that they have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Your continuing hard work is setting them up for success.
This week allows us to remind all of you just how much your efforts are valued.
I am delighted on behalf of the Board of Directors and all OzChild staff members, to formally express our thanks to all of OzChild’s volunteers.
From the OzChild CEO: Family Matters Week of Action
The vision of the Family Matters Week of Action is that all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people grow up safely in their home, receive a good education and grow up healthy and proud of who they are.
There is a clear and urgent need for change and OzChild is proud to be a signatory to The Family Matters Statement of Commitment.
In the past 12 months since we launched the OzChild Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) we have continued in our journey to cultural competence.
We shared a historic moment with the Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation when we committed OzChild to support a cultural security pledge when working with Indigenous families in the ACT.
We also supported the Wungurilwil Gapgapduir – Aboriginal Children and Families Agreement, a tripartite agreement between the Aboriginal community, Victorian Government and community service organisations. It outlines a strategic direction to reduce the number of Aboriginal children in out-of-home care by building their connection to culture, Country and community.
These are just a few highlights of how OzChild is committed to ensuring our policies and practices are culturally safe and responsive to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.
We will continue to work with our Aboriginal colleagues and alongside them. By doing this we will continue to develop our practices in line with this learning to support and reduce the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care.
If you haven’t already, I urge you to take the Family Matters pledge to ensure ALL Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children grow up safe, well and cared for in their families, communities and culture.
By pushing for change we will help to create stronger Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities.
Camaraderie important at camp
10 May 2018
Having fun and making new friends were the highlights of a recent camp run for young adults with a disability on the Mornington Peninsula.
OzChild’s Flexible Respite Team regularly run camps throughout the year for young adults with a disability aged 18 to 25 years old at various sites on the Mornington Peninsula.
The focus of the camps is to encourage social interaction, foster independence by giving people choice and control over their decisions and develop life skills.
In early April a camp was held at Merricks Lodge in Merricks, and to encourage social interaction, the attendees were discouraged from bringing their mobile devices. The few who did, agreed to switch them off during the camp.
The camps are jammed packed with group activities where everyone is encouraged to participate. For those that wanted to be active there were old fashioned games like thumbs up, heads down, celebrity heads and card games, while those who preferred quiet time, spent time creating some art work and colouring in.
A highlight of the second day was a picnic morning tea in which everyone had a task to complete in the preparation and clean up. After the morning tea everyone enjoyed a cricket game at Merricks Beach. The ‘test match’ was a very competitive but fun encounter and gave everyone the opportunity to play as part of a team, play fair and bond as a group.
The day finished off with a movie night with everyone bringing their blankets and pillows to the lounge and sharing in non-alcoholic cider and nibbles (very grown up!)
On the last day of camp, everyone enjoyed a stroll down to the local shops and cafes where the campers were encouraged to cross the roads safely and to always be mindful of the traffic around them.
The camaraderie between everybody made the camp so much fun with everyone enjoying each other’s company, making new friends and connections.
Visit our disability services page to find out more about our camps as well as the other disability services we offer.