Switchboard reports on the joys of volunteering for an LGBTIQ community organisation.

  Gay and Lesbian Switchboard is a volunteer based organisation. Over the last 21 years we have trained hundreds of volunteer counsellors. Some stay for a long time, we have counsellors who have been with us for over 10 years whilst others move on to other things after a fairly short time. What all of these people have in common is there desire to help others, to develop skills that they may not have had before and feel that they are “giving back” to the LGBTIQ community.

Volunteering Australia provides some interesting facts about volunteers. According to 2010 figures, 36% of the Australian adult population volunteer, that is about 6.4million people. Slightly more women (40%) volunteer than men (37%) and volunteer rates varied across different age groups in the population and particularly varied with life stage. People aged 45-54 years reported the highest rate of volunteering whereas young people represented 9.4% of all people who had volunteered in the previous 12 months. Employed people (whether full time 38% or part time or 44%) had a higher volunteering rate than those who were unemployed or not in the labour force. When asked what they valued most about their volunteering experience, the top two answers from volunteers were the difference they made to the community and the sense of purpose it gives them.

Opportunities to volunteer in the LGBTIQ community are many and varied and depend on your skills, interests and the time you have available. You may want to contribute the skills and knowledge you have or alternatively learn something new that is completely different that will provide a total contrast to what you do in your paid work life. For example, you may wish to undertake the Taste of Radio course conducted by JOY 94.9, Australia’s only gay and lesbian radio station and become an on-air program presenter or news reader. You may only have enough time to volunteer once a year and choose to be a marshall at Pride March or you might like to get involved in a festival such as Midsumma or the Melbourne Queer film-reviews Festival. Plus just about every community organisation has a volunteer board or committee and many would welcome your contribution.

Volunteering is a two way street, the first thing you may think about is what you can give – your time, your expertise, your care and passion but there many things you receive in return. A sense of helping others, learning new skills or maintaining existing ones, passing on skills and knowledge to others, increased personal satisfaction and gaining work experience – just to name a few.

If you’re interested in volunteering, why not give one of our volunteer telephone counsellors a call? They’ll be able to help you choose the right community organisation for you to approach.


Gay and Lesbian Switchboard

Counselling: 03 9663 2939 (Melbourne) or 1800 184 527 (Regional Victoria and Tasmania) 

Monday to Thursday 6pm to10pm

Wednesdays 2pm to 10pm

Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Public Holidays 6pm to 9pm

Web: www.switchboard.org.au

Email: [email protected]