22 May 2018
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.