Friends Volunteer Program
Are you wanting to help children in care achieve better tomorrows? We’re looking for caring, dependable and energetic volunteers to provide support from just four hours per month.
Highly flexible, the Friends Volunteer Program provides practical assistance to children and their carers across a number of Home Based Care programs in Melbourne’s Eastern metropolitan suburbs. The program operates within the local government areas of Manningham, Monash, Boroondara, Whitehorse, Maroondah, Yarra Ranges and Knox.
Various volunteer opportunities are available including occasional child minding, helping with transport to various school or extracurricular activities, tutoring, mentoring, or acting as a role model to young people. The program is ideal for those who are time poor but want flexibility and variety. Volunteers nominate their availability ranging from a regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly commitment to helping out on an occasional basis.
To find out more about the Friends Volunteer Program please contact us on 1300 889 335 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends Volunteer Program Training Dates
Training is run across two sessions, four times per year. To view our training dates for the year please click here.
All applicants joining the program are required to undergo a Working with Children Check and Criminal History Check. You will also receive ongoing training and access to specialised support services.
Friends Volunteer Program FAQs
Children and young people needing support through the Friends program are currently unable to remain at home with their families and are placed into the care of foster or kinship carers. These children may be traumatised or feel a great sense of loss due to family disruption or breakdown. Children can enter an alternative living situation for many reasons including neglect, trauma, family illness, crisis or abuse. A child may stay in alternative care for as little as one night or up to a few years. As a Friend you can help provide stability or support to a child’s placement and boost his or her self-esteem.
By being a special Friend to a child in care, you can help boost a child’s self-esteem and provide stability or support to a child’s placement, therefore minimising further disruption to a child’s life. You may also enable a child to access activities that they may not otherwise have the opportunity to experience. As a Volunteer Friend you can also provide carers with a well needed break.
As a Volunteer Friend you can provide support to children and their carers in many ways including:
- Being a ‘buddy’, regular mentor or role model
- Supporting children with homework or tutoring
- Providing practical support to individuals or families providing care, including occasional child minding, babysitting, gardening or cleaning
- Providing assistance with transport of children to activities, events, or to and from school
- Teaching young people independent living skills such as budgeting, time management, cooking and shopping.
You can nominate your preference for which of the above volunteering roles you wish to provide and how often. You do not need to provide all roles.
As the program is highly flexible, you are able to nominate your availability, ranging from a regular weekly, fortnightly or monthly commitment to helping out on an occasional basis. As a minimum, it is expected volunteers commit to the program for 12 months duration and for at least four hours per month.
You can nominate your availability based on you current commitments, and can advise if you are available during school hours, before or after school hours, weekdays, weekends or school holidays.
As a Volunteer Friend you will receive initial training as well as ongoing educational opportunities and support. Volunteers are supported in their role by Anglicare Victoria staff. As a volunteer, Friends do not receive a salary, although expenses incurred relating to travel or children’s expenses will usually be reimbursed. Costs should always be discussed and agreed with a caseworker in advance.
We welcome Friends from all walks of life including people who are:
- Aged between 18 and 80
- Working, retired or studying
- Single, married, with or without children
The key personal attributes we look for in our volunteers are warmth, compassion, friendliness, flexibility, dependability and a willingness to communicate clearly and work as part of a team. Experience or knowledge of working with children will be highly regarded.
- I live outside the local government areas the program operates in. Am I still eligible to be a Volunteer Friend?
We do prefer to accept applicants that live within the local government areas of Manningham, Monash, Boroondara, Whitehorse, Maroondah, Yarra Ranges and Knox. However, if you reside outside these areas by only a few suburbs, or are traveling to the East regularly for work, study or family commitments, we will consider your application. Please be aware that the children and families requiring the support of volunteers live within the areas listed above, and you will be required to travel to provide support.
- Am I allowed to change the type of volunteering I provide or the frequency with which I volunteer once I am accredited?
Yes, absolutely. Volunteers can change the level and frequency of support they provide during their time as a Volunteer Friend. We understand circumstances change and we offer flexibility within the program to accommodate your availability.
No, whilst you do not need have to have any specialist skills to become a Volunteer Friend, you do need to be confident in your abilities to engage with, support and respond to children who have experienced trauma. Obviously if you have experience working with children as a teacher, in a caring profession, or a related field, these skills will be of benefit if you preference is to provide tutoring or mentoring.
To become a Volunteer Friend, you must register your interest and advise us of the type of volunteer opportunities that you are interested in. You then need to attend and complete the required training and participate in background screening including a ‘Criminal History Check’ and ‘Working with Children Check’. After training, the assessment process also requires you to:
- Nominate three personal referees
- Complete a medical declaration
- Write your personal life story and provide information regarding your motivation to volunteer, as well as your ability to work effectively as part of a team, to promote the positive development of children and to keep children safe from harm
- Discuss your responses in more detail with a member of Anglicare’s Home Based Care Placement and Support team in the East.
Unfortunately, no. Supervision of students is not able to be offered through the Friends program.
The assessment process for the Friends Volunteer Program looks at whether an applicant has the capability, experience or know how to provide care to children or young people from the time they are accredited. If you have the motivation to contribute to the wellbeing of children and wish to supplement your studies with volunteering, that is fine, as long as you meet the other requirements.
Ben’s experience with the Friends Volunteer Program whilst leading busy life.
Ben has been involved in the Friends Program for about five years providing babysitting and mentoring during that time. Volunteer roles within the Friends Program can vary depending on what support a friend feels they can offer. Roles can include being a buddy or mentor like Ben, providing tutoring, babysitting, transportation or teaching independent living skills.
Ben initially started volunteering for four hours a month but more recently has been volunteering for closer to 10 hours per month. Volunteers are able to nominate their availability and the amount of time they are willing to commit to ensure it fits in with their work/study or family commitments.
Ben was prompted to become a Volunteer Friend by his desire to help out. He has found the experience to be a rewarding one. “It’s been really rewarding to see the growth in the children I supports. Because I’m not there all the time, small changes are quite noticeable.”
Ben has found the response from both the children he supports and their foster carers to be incredibly positive. “Ryan* looks forward to hanging out with me and playing football. I love seeing him get better at it and enjoy it more.” Sarah*, Ryan’s foster carer, appreciates the role Ben plays in Ryan’s life and is “happy to be given a hand” through the program.
Ben encourages those considering becoming a Volunteer Friend to give it a go “it’s a good thing to do!”
* Not their real names.