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Volunteering is a badge of honour for SA students

27 March 2024

An innovative app designed to support young people to get jobs, build networks and increase community participation through volunteering experience, is being piloted in South Australian secondary schools.

The Volunteering SA&NT initiative, which is backed by $125,000 in State Government funding over two years, is a partnership with the Student Volunteer Army (SVA) New Zealand, which began following the Christchurch earthquakes in 2010, mobilising students to help with recovery efforts.

The South Australian SVA pilot will focus on secondary school students and uses an easy-to-use app to track and celebrate voluntary service with badges and resume-ready summaries.

The app forms part of the broader SVA Service Award program, which recognises the volunteering efforts of young people, and supports and showcases the skills they develop as a result.

South Australia is the second jurisdiction to pilot the model after Tasmania, which has been using the app for more than 12 months.

More than 450 South Australian students have signed up to the app as part of the pilot and almost 100 students are already active volunteers.

Berri Regional Secondary College, Northern Adelaide Senior College, Thebarton Senior College, Wirreanda Secondary School, Glenunga International High School, Blackwood High School and the Riverland South Australian Aboriginal Secondary Training Academy are participating in the pilot.

Students can log their volunteer hours on the app using their laptop – or a smartphone outside of school hours – and celebrate milestones by achieving bronze, silver and gold badges. They can download a summary of voluntary service, which is designed as a document that can be used in job interviews and other selection processes, such as apprenticeships, scholarships, and further study.

The success of the pilot will be evaluated in Term 4 and the potential for it to be rolled out further in future.

Quotes attributable to Nat Cook

Volunteering in South Australia was significantly impacted through the COVID pandemic and as a result, we have seen a decline in volunteers across the state

. We have an ageing volunteer cohort and as Minister, I am very keen to see young people getting more connected, and involved in, their communities, and helping to rebuild our state’s volunteering ranks.

I see this app as a great tool to support and encourage young people to seek out volunteering opportunities and to use those opportunities as a foundation for whatever comes next, whether it be employment or further study.

The Malinauskas Labor Government has invested $340,000 over two years into Volunteering SA&NT to support the implementation of the SA Volunteering Strategy. The Student Volunteer Army is one of five key projects that will bring this strategy to life.

Quotes attributable to Catherine Hutchesson

This app is a great opportunity to see our young people really experience the joy of volunteering and the benefit that it can bring to community.

Not only can volunteering help others it provides an excellent opportunity to engage with other members of the community, gain experience and it may even inspire a young person’s ideas about their future career.

I am very glad that Blackwood High School students have put their hand up to be involved in the pilot as there are lots of opportunities for them in our community, whether that be through our Friends of Parks, the CFS, their sports clubs, school or other community groups.

Helping others is a really great way to help ourselves.

Quotes attributable to Hamilton Calder, Chief Executive, Volunteering SA&NT

Volunteering is a win-win – volunteers do important work for the community, but they also receive massive rewards in return, as we know volunteering and community connection boost our wellbeing and mental health.

Now our student volunteers can reap those rewards in the form of documented recognition.

Students become more confident through volunteering, and they can take that confidence into future job interviews with downloadable summaries of their voluntary service

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