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Volunteers - Uncovering the hidden value

Victoria's Emergency Management Volunteers contribute a conservative indicative value of $1.9 - $2.5 billion dollars of value to Victoria every year.

VFBV has worked tirelessly alongside our partners at the Victoria State Emergency Service Volunteer Association (VicSESVA), Ambulance Victoria, St John Ambulance, the Victorian Council of Churches Emergency Ministry and Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) to research and report on the value of Victoria's emergency management volunteers, volunteering and volunteerism. This project is referred in shorthand, as the 3V's. (Volunteers - Volunteering - Volunteerism.)

The 3V's project has involved exploring additional ways to analyse the value of Victoria’s emergency management volunteers, volunteering and volunteerism. It has provided a framework and model that illustrates various layers of value, and explores the breadth of that value at the local community level. It was sponsored by the Volunteer Consultative Forum (VCF) which VFBV is a founding member of, and worked with Lateral Economics to produce a fresh and original perspective to this unique task using fit for purpose logic, structure and evidence.

The full Final Report, and the Interim Report (published in 2017) are both available for download at the bottom of this page.

The reports discuss the 'hidden value' that arises incidentally from the 3Vs that might not otherwise be known, captured and hence appreciated. It aims to bring this value to life through a new way of talking about volunteers, their activities and impact on society, while being accurate and credible.

The 3Vs Final Report presents a simple logic for how the 3Vs generate value to Victorians. Volunteers undertake activities which have positive outcomes or ‘value’, and value can be described in different ways. Describing value in its diversity allows the State to recognise and build on the value accrued by Victorian communities from the 3Vs. In this way, the 3Vs can be conceived not only as an emergency management workforce and a mechanism for building emergency related community resilience, but also as a way to strengthen communities.

Even a preliminary analysis of this kind shows that the value of volunteers is large, and widely distributed across the community. Discussing the size of the 3Vs’ value puts in stark contrast the flip-side of the issue: the possible losses and risk to Victoria from lower 3Vs activity.

VFBV commends these reports to not only volunteers themselves, but emergency management stakeholders, policy makers and the Victorian public in general.

Visible, active, positive emergency volunteerism in a community can make a difference to society as a whole. This difference has both tangible and intangible aspects. Emergency Management Volunteers are fundamental to emergency management in Victoria. It is therefore critical that their value and importance be recognized, and their collective interests and needs be protected, encouraged and supported to ensure they can deliver their services safely and effectively for the benefit of the Australian community.


Overview of value creation from Victoria's emergency volunteers, volunteering and volunteerism.


Excerpts from the reports:

3Vs - Volunteers, Volunteering and Volunteerism

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 Victorians contribute their time, skills and resources to ongoing volunteer work in local communities before, during and after emergencies. While it is helpful to know how many people volunteer, it provides no real insight, evidence or facts about the value that volunteers are providing to the state of Victoria.

The 3V’s Final Report: Uncovering the hidden value was developed by the Volunteer Consultative Forum (VCF) and supported by Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) to bring to life the value of the three V’s associated with volunteering within emergency services: volunteers, volunteering and volunteerism. This final report builds on the 3V’s interim report released in August 2017 and provides further evidence of the value generated by Victoria’s emergency management volunteers, volunteering and volunteerism and also a framework and model that identifies three layers of value: volunteer personal value; emergency management value; and community strengthening value. Both the final report and the interim report are available for download at the bottom of this page.

The value created by Victoria’s emergency volunteers, volunteering and volunteering is estimated at between $1.9 billion to $2.5 billion annually.


Defining the value

The 3V’s project developed a simple logic to explain how the 3V’s generate value to the Victorian community.

Where resources and inputs can include time, established working relationships, local knowledge, accrued skills and physical capability. Each of these are applied to undertake activities and outputs. These activities and outputs can be defined both in terms of emergency management, for example training sessions, responding to incidents, community safety, and in more general ways such as bringing a group together to work cooperatively towards a shared goal.

Activities and outputs have a positive outcome on someone or something which can define the value of the activity, this value can vary significantly in size depending on what would have otherwise occurred if not for the volunteer having input into the situation.

The Interim Report identified six types of value alongside the economic value that is often captured or referred to, each of these values span a wide range of beneficiaries and contribute to community resilience, the six types of value are:

Each of these values aligns with one or more of the three concurrent layers of volunteering identified by the 3V’s Project, the three layers are briefly explained further below and more detailed explanations of the values can be found in the report available for download at the bottom of this page. 


1. Volunteer Personal Value

The volunteer personal value refers to volunteering as the activity itself, the work that volunteers are doing before, during and after emergencies.


2. Emergency Management Value

The emergency management value layer refers to the volunteers who are the dedicated people who do the work in local communities before, during and after emergencies.


3. Community Strengthening Value

This layer relates to the value that the culture within the organisations and the culture within the community that volunteers provide value to, communities may feel a greater sense of safety and security knowing that volunteers are ready and able to assist.


The 2017 Interim report also explored the characteristics of resilience, and produced the conceptual model below to illustrate the links between them:




There is much to be proud of when presenting the value of 100,000 emergency management volunteers, the activities they provide and the spirit in which they work with and on behalf of Victorian communities.

Volunteers require respect, recognition and a purpose for them to continue to be engaged. Training, volunteer support and operational utilisation are also critical factors in retaining them and maintaining operational readiness for deployment. 

Historical evidence demonstrates that when volunteer roles are diminished or they feel their contribution is no longer valued or respected, they disengage.

A cradle to grave volunteer model ensures flexibility to account for changes in lifestyle and career/family changes, or life pressures such as starting a family or new business. A flexible model that buffers this ebb and flow of availability is key to its long-term success and sustainability.

Recruitment, retention and respect go hand in hand with ensuring Victoria has a volunteer pool strong and resilient enough to meet future peak load demands. Volunteers must have meaningful roles to motivate and encourage them.

All recent inquiries and commissions have recognised the fundamental importance of the current volunteer arrangements.  The need for trained, experienced volunteers is growing.  Already one of the most wildfire prone areas in the world, Victoria faces the twin challenges of a rapidly growing population and increased urbanisation within an expanding metropolitan Melbourne and regional cities.

Volunteers are calling for bi-partisan support for initiatives that protect, encourage, support and strengthen Victoria’s emergency management volunteer surge capacity to best prepare Victoria for future disasters.

VFBV commends the 3V reports to not only volunteers themselves, but emergency management stakeholders, policy makers and the Victorian public in general and encourages you to read and explore the contents contains within.

Strong Volunteerism, Embraced to Build Community Resilience for a Safer Victoria.


Read 5532 times Last modified on Monday, 18 October 2021 11:28
CFA Volunteers are the unpaid professionals of our Emergency Services. VFBV is their united voice, and speaks on behalf of Victoria's 60,000 CFA Volunteers.