The Hunter Volunteer Centre (HVC) is a community facility for volunteers and those who work with them. Anyone in the community who has an interest in volunteering, or requires assistance with volunteering issues can utilise the staff and resources of the centre.
The centre was founded in 1981 by Margo Thomson, who came from the UK in 1977 to initiate and support a system of day care centres for the elderly in the Hunter region. The Hunter Volunteer Development Centre, as it was then known, was originally a staff resource centre for the day care centres. These were largely self-sufficient, run by staff, and operating within the communities they served.
During this time, the centre was also regularly contacted by people looking for voluntary work, as well as community groups looking for more staff. This small part of the service was formalised in 1985, when a group of business administration students from the University of Newcastle set up ‘People Link’ under the auspices of the Hunter Volunteer Development Centre. The two services amalgamated in 1993, and became the Hunter Volunteer Centre.
The Hunter Volunteer Centre’s mission is to promote, encourage, and empower volunteers in their contribution to the community, and to support and resource organisations in their utilisation of volunteers.
Volunteer positions are available in almost every area and profession. While most positions are in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie areas, they are also on offer in Port Stephens, Maitland and throughout the Hunter region.
The HVC conducts information sessions called ‘Bridge to Volunteering’ each Tuesday which explains the rights and responsibilities of a volunteer and ‘Volunteering – A Pathway Towards Employment’ which offers people the insight to how volunteering can assist entry into employment.
After the information session, participants have the opportunity to make an appointment to speak with trained volunteer interviewers who will help match them with a suitable volunteer position. Potential volunteers can also register online and a HVC representative will contact them to arrange an interview.
Community organisations can become a member of the Hunter Volunteer Centre to be a part of a referral service, providing access to volunteers whose interests, skills and availability match their needs. Members also receive subsidised attendance at HVC’s regular education sessions on issues such as OH&S, insurance and duty of care.
The Hunter Volunteer Centre is also responsible for several programs in the region. Golden Gurus is a national program providing over-50s with volunteering opportunities. The Community Visitors Scheme matches volunteers with a person living in an aged-care facility to provide friendship and social contact. Skills Bank is a database of people with specialist skills and expertise, who are prepared to assist not-for-profit organisations at short notice.
HVC is also running the Timebanking trial in the Hunter region. This program allows the voluntary exchange of services between members, operating on the basis of ‘an hour for an hour’.
The Hunter Volunteer Centre is located at Level 1, 810 Hunter St Newcastle West. For general enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 4940 0077.