Migrant ladies cooking

New migrants and refugees are very involved in volunteering, with two-thirds becoming involved within 18 months of their arrival. A new report explains how the benefits flow both ways.

Volunteering Australia and the Settlement Council of Australia have published a report about the involvement of newly settled people in volunteering.

Volunteering and Settlement in Australia - A Snapshot finds that "Motivations to volunteer differ for everyone, however respondents were largely looking to contribute to society, make friends, improve their English or gain local work experience".

Here at Leep we meet many such volunteers through our trainings. The skills and knowledge of even young volunteers can be very high. At the most recent training there was a nurse, a hydrologist, a physicist, a dentist and a former TV network journalist. What was lacking was a basic knowledge of Australian workplaces - terms like WH&S and RDO were new to them. 

As the report says: "Volunteering can be particularly valuable in helping people from diverse backgrounds to engage with the workforce and build key employable skills. This is significant for those who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) or refugees, who can face multiple barriers to finding paid employment, such as discrimination, and are often excluded from the labour market."

Organisations were found to benefit from increased diversity, which is supported by research findings showing companies that are more ethnically diverse are 35 per cent more likely to perform better than their industry partners.

Supports identified that would be useful for volunteers include: coaching, mentoring, training, resources, general information and legal support.

See the full report here.