VolunteerHub staffer Megan Burke is studying palliative care volunteering and multiculturalism and sent this report on a recent conference she attended:
Last week Volunteering Victoria held an informative and engaging one day conference focusing on the important topic of Multicultural Volunteering: Empowering People, Connecting Communities. While this was a general volunteering conference that encompassed a wide range of volunteering services and organisations the themes were extremely relevant to the field of palliative care volunteering.
As Palliative Care NSW begins a small research project looking at the way people from CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) communities access and receive palliative care services within the Sydney Metropolitan area, understanding how CALD communities engage with the available services and what this means for volunteers as well as patients and their families is extremely important.
The Victorian conference addressed a broad range of topics ranging from how to better engage minority ethnic groups in volunteering to how we recognise informal volunteering and work to improve the provision of services around these issues. There were some wonderful speakers from academic, political and volunteering backgrounds who provided insightful and informative commentary on the current situation and engaged the conference delegates in productive discussions about how to better collaborate with other services that may improve their level of cultural competency and engagement within these communities.
There was discussion about the barriers facing CALD community members who want to volunteer but are discouraged because of their limited language skills, and how this can often lead to marginalisation and exclusion from mainstream volunteering opportunities.
Overall there was extremely positive discussion about improving the engagement of CALD volunteers to simultaneously engage these people within the broader community and also provide an extra level of care and service to the CALD community itself. The community as a whole would benefit greatly from the unique attributes these potential volunteers would bring to an organisation as multi-lingual, resilient and resourceful volunteers.