Volunteering can be the 'icing on the cake' for university graduates.
Graduate Careers Australia data show that employment prospects of new graduates have deteriorated in recent years, with 68 per cent of Australia’s 2014 undergraduates in full-time employment within four months of completing their degrees, down from 71 per cent in 2013 and 76 per cent in 2012.
In this sobering context, university students are discovering the importance of volunteering to distinguish themselves to employers, a long established practice in the USA (where it is called service learning) but much less common in Australia.
VU Provost Professor Kerri-Lee Krause said while many universities – including VU – embed service learning into academic programs to develop career skills, Victoria University is one of the only one in Australia to do it as an annual whole-of-university commitment to the local community.
“There is growing recognition that universities should be sharing their expertise, resources and people more openly with their surrounding communities,” she said.
Toward this goal, on Friday 9 October 2015 more than 300 Victoria University students and staff will volunteer at community projects across Maribyrnong, Brimbank, Hobsons Bay, and Moonee Valley in Melbourne’s West in the University’s annual Volunteer for You (V4U) Day.
Now in its fifth year, V4U draws VU volunteers from all areas of study and all campuses, with the aim of building relationships between VU students, staff and academics, and the local community.
The volunteers will fan out in teams to one of more than 30 projects where they will garden, paint, collect litter, make crafts or join in activities with community groups, the elderly, the disabled, and school children.
Student volunteers receive credit toward student leadership qualifications through the program, which has been nationally recognised for excellence by the Australian Association of Campus Activities.
“We are in a position of responsibility to support and encourage volunteering at university,” Professor Krause said. “Volunteering is the icing on the cake for graduates to stand out.”
Professor Krause said volunteering opportunities are particularly important at VU now that it has partnered with the Maribyrnong City Council in a 10-year project to promote the University’s surrounding suburb of Footscray as a ‘university town.’
Media are invited to view and take photos at select V4U activities Friday 9 October 2015:
WHERE: Nicholson Street Mall, Footscray (outside the Commonwealth Bank)
WHAT: Volunteers in V4U T-shirts will gather for official launch with Maribyrnong Mayor Cr Nam Quach, Volunteering Victoria CEO Sue Noble, and VU Vice-Chancellor Peter Dawkins
Maribyrnong: All abilities sports
WHERE: Whitten Oval - 417 Barkly Street, Footscray
WHAT: VU exercise sport students and other volunteers will give kids with disabilities a day of fun, physical activities and sports
TIME: 11am – 2pm
Brimbank: Socialising with seniors
WHERE: Doutta Galla Aged Care(Grantham Green)28 Magnolia St, St Albans
WHAT: Volunteers will socialise with residents and assist with a BBQ lunch
TIME: 11am – 2pm
Moonee Valley: Community tidy-up
WHERE: Wingate Community Centre –13A Wingate Avenue, Ascot Vale
WHAT: Tidying up, cleaning, organising and sorting a community shed
TIME: 11am – 2pm
Media Contact: Ann Marie Angebrandt: 03 9919 5487, 0401 100 576 or firstname.lastname@example.org