Australia has seen its share of natural disasters – most notably bushfires and floods – and the surge of spontaneous volunteering each emergency produces. While recent attempts to register volunteers in advance of a disaster are useful, too few are actually activated during an emergency because local officials do not have the resources or skills to coordinate them. In the spring of 2012, with the annual bushfire season right around the corner, Volunteering Victoria, the peak volunteering body for the State of Victoria in Australia, had a simple idea: Why not create a platform that links volunteer program managers across the state in times of emergency?
Launched in January 2013, the Volunteer Program Manager Register now has 70 skilled and experienced volunteer program managers ready to respond to calls for assistance in times of emergency and natural disaster in Victoria, Australia. In this feature article, author Alicia Patterson, the marketing and communications manager for Volunteering Victoria, explains how this Register is meant to work, and how it helps the helpers coordinate volunteers who are keen to assist with recovery efforts when disaster strikes.