Coffs Harbour in urgent need of more volunteers

Nona Brown, a Volunteering Coffs Harbour interviewer who specialises in matching people with opportunities they are passionate about.

VOLUNTEERING is in a precarious position nationally with volunteer numbers declining since COVID.

Locally, Volunteering Coffs Harbour is calling for support.

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Pre-COVID volunteer numbers sat at around 36 percent, but by April 2022 formal volunteering numbers had dropped to around 26 percent.

The 2021 census cited a nineteen percent drop in volunteering numbers since 2016.

According to 2020 data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the decline was most significant amongst the 15-24 age group.

The National Network of Volunteer Resource Centres (VRC) is lobbying the federal government to allocate $3.4 million dollars in the upcoming October budget so they can stay afloat.

“The federal funding has been redirected to the state volunteering peak bodies to support a subset of volunteer services only,” Di Woods, Manager at Coffs Harbour Neighbourhood Centre, told News Of The Area.

“These are based in major capital cities, with no ties or understanding of the unique needs of local regional communities.”

The current funding model does not allow for 70 percent of volunteers recruited nationally through VRC’s, a formal pathway or supported pathway to volunteering.

“Every person should be afforded the right to participate in and contribute to their community, not just those who are able to engage online,” said Di.

“A key part of Volunteering Coffs Harbour’s service is ensuring that potential volunteers have the opportunity to understand the array of roles and organisations that support volunteers so they can choose what suits their availability and interests them best, what they are passionate about and an organisation that aligns with what is important to them as the volunteer.

“People don’t know what they don’t know,” she said.

Volunteering is not just about giving your time or working in care, there’s innumerable roles in Coffs Harbour supporting galleries, tourist centres, local cafes, retail, the Botanic gardens and other natural areas.

It is about informed choice.

“Supporting this informed choice significantly increases opportunity for people to find the right place for them at the right time, without wasting time or getting disillusioned by the process.

“A happy volunteer is much more likely to stay with the organisation for a long period of time,” Di said.

Volunteering Coffs Harbour has helped thousands of local community members to find volunteer opportunities within the community for more than 20 years.

They also work with an array of organisations to support, train and recruit volunteers.

In regional areas like Coffs Harbour there are numerous organisations that are specifically tailored to meet local needs.

Many of these organisations would not exist without volunteer support.

“Every day we engage with organisations that are supported or operated by volunteers.

“These organisation support many of our community’s most vulnerable but that is only the tip of the iceberg.”

Many in our community are using and engaging with services regularly without even knowing that volunteers are the backbone of those organisations.

For the past eighteen months, Volunteering Coffs Harbour has maintained services without funding for this core service.

“It has significantly drained our reserves but throughout COVID volunteers were needed more than ever.

“There is a huge assumption that this has changed, unfortunately community need locally with housing and cost of living issues has further exacerbated community need for volunteer support even more.”

If people are seeking a volunteer position, they can contact Volunteer Reception on (02) 6648 3660 or


Di Woods, Manager at Volunteering Coffs Harbour.

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