Community stories: 24 February 2023
Ravensthorpe Community Resource Centre (CRC) Inc is integral in coordinating and managing community and business events throughout the Ravensthorpe Shire in Western Australia. They have expanded to the Fitzgerald Business Network, which is focused on connecting and skill building businesses throughout the district including social development activities such as Study with a Buddy After School Program; Seniors Computer Club and major annual events such as Wellness Weekender and Galaxy Country Carnival and Street Parade.
A $5,000 Nutrien Ag Solution Community Grant in 2021 provided the opportunity to improve community organisations’ employee and volunteer management. The grant funded bringing in a local human resources consultant to develop tailored solutions for paid and unpaid personnel in local community groups, run workshops on volunteer management software systems and set up a central register for formal volunteer documents. Additionally, a project manager was paid to plan and co-ordinate the work.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of many communities. However, this is a great example of how funding can temporarily increase organisational capacity to complete work effectively. In this case the original plan of completing one group training was not possible so several sessions had to be coordinated to ensure all local community groups could participate.
There have been some great outcomes:
- Position descriptions and employment contracts were developed for seven community groups or volunteer programs, including the Community Spirit Committee and Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council.
- A volunteer certificate register was developed and promoted. It has benefited three groups (and will continue to benefit others) who have volunteers that require Working With Children Checks, Responsible Service of Alcohol Certificates and that want to store these certificates in a central location.
- Two workshops on cloud-based volunteer management options were delivered.
Chairperson Tracy Ebert was delighted with the project outcomes. “We have developed a suite of tailored resources for some of our most important local community groups. The volunteers on these groups now feel much more confident to engage volunteers and paid staff knowing that they are meeting all legal requirements. The volunteers have enjoyed having very clear expectations and have remained engaged. There are now at least three other groups in the community using the volunteer software system presented to manage volunteers and the reporting to committees and management of tasks has been vastly improved in these instances.
“And that’s not all,” she continued. “Excitingly, we have been able to provide these resources to a region-wide project – South Coast Enviro Experiences – with similar objectives (as the challenges with managing volunteers are universal), which means they don’t have to reinvent the wheel and can direct their resources into other essential elements of the project which we will benefit from.”
There are learnings in all projects and the Ravensthorpe CRC are conscious of the security of the data they hold on behalf of their volunteers, and have taken all measures for its secure keeping.
Overall, 60 people from Ravensthorpe community organisations directly benefited from the training and presentations, and there is the ongoing benefit to human resource documentation and administration skills to support current and future employees and volunteers in Ravensthorpe.