Volunteering Tasmania report shows sport clubs rely on small core group of volunteers to cover all roles

VOLUNTEERS: Mac Wilcox, Barney Wilcox, Isabella Johnston, Daisy Johnston, Alicia Hollingworth and Grace Gillow of Little Athletics at St Leonards Athletic Centre. Picture: Paul Scambler
VOLUNTEERS: Mac Wilcox, Barney Wilcox, Isabella Johnston, Daisy Johnston, Alicia Hollingworth and Grace Gillow of Little Athletics at St Leonards Athletic Centre. Picture: Paul Scambler

Sport clubs in regional areas are at risk of closure because of low volunteering numbers.

A new report released by Volunteering Tasmania found it was becoming increasingly common in sporting groups to find a small core group of people handling several roles to ensure the sport viability.

Volunteering Tasmania chief executive Alison Lai said the trends that were affecting volunteering across sectors were also having an impact on sporting clubs.

“Our research indicates that there is a high reliance on core groups of increasingly time-poor volunteers, that more volunteers are needed, and more support is required to recruit and retain volunteers,” she said.

The Volunteering in Sport report was released on Tuesday and was funded by the state government. It involved more than 200 sporting clubs across Tasmania and focused on mapping the key trends.

The report made several recommendations, including: educating sporting organisations about changing volunteer expectations, promote existing volunteer workforce planning resources and encouraging the sharing of best practice case studies.

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Little Athletics Tasmania board member Brett Gillow said Little Athletics Centres across the state relied on parent volunteer support but more was needed.

“We would never say no to more volunteers,” he said.

He said the changing work environment, including increased weekend work and shift work were contributing factors to low volunteer numbers.

“Also, one of the things we are finding is that we see more single parent households, which I am sure contributes to people being time-poor.”

Mr Gillow said the report was useful because it made him more aware of improvements that could be made at Little Athletics with regard to the management of volunteers.

“You seem to just keep doing what you’re doing and you probably don’t think it is as bad as it is, until you participate in something like this,” he said.

He said as a result of the survey, Little Athletics would be ensuring that existing resources would be made more available to the centre committees.

Little Athletics centres vary across the state and can cater for a range of athletes.