Mel’s Life Story

The idea that started it all…

My volunteering journey began in 1998, when I started visiting an old school friend, who 24067801_150378798916047_403138475559643358_nlives in a large residential facility in the north-western suburbs of Brisbane. During visits, I would take this young man for walks, we would talk, listen to the radio, read magazines and I would assist him with his morning tea.  This volunteer role rapidly grew and by the end of my time volunteering for the facility, I was visiting four young people on a regular basis. We would read magazines, play games and I assisted one young lady with her communication program.

In 2006, I began working at Red Hill Special School initially for one day a week as “volunteer Librarian”. This is a role I really loved, and I felt like a valued member of the team. My responsibilities included barcoding and repairing books, sourcing new books for the library and carrying out other duties to maintain the school library. In 2008, feeling disillusioned with the residential facility where I volunteered, I decided to leave. At this time, my volunteer position at the school increased to two days a week. In   2010, after an increase in support funding,  I  was working at the school three half-days a week.

My volunteering role at the school ceased at the end of 2011, because of refurbishments, the school library was closed. After a short break, in mid 2012 I became a volunteer for the Queensland Homicide Victims’ Support  Group, where  I supported families who had lost a family member through homicide, assisted with general administrative duties and fundraising events, as well as homicide awareness campaigns.  I still volunteer with this organisation on a sporadic basis.

In 2014, I began volunteer work at Mitchelton Special School, initially assisting with administrative tasks. Earlier this year (2015) my role at the school changed to researching and developing volunteer roles for students, either in their final years of schooling, or who have recently left school. This role involved writing to Not For Profit Organisations about the prospect of students/ex-students volunteering for their organisation- this project was quite successful, with seven organisations coming on board.  This planted a seed in my mind that eventually led me to establish my own business “Inclusive Volunteering”.

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I am an avid researcher and writer, and have developed a series of booklets on various aspects of volunteering for people with disabilities. These booklets are now a part of Inclusive Volunteering’s resource collection and copies can be made to individuals and organisations, upon request.

As well as formal volunteering efforts, I have been on numerous committees throughout the years. These committees having ranged from supporting families with a family member with a disability,  campaigning for more personalised care for people with disabilities to planning and writing policies and dealing with issues related to service provision for people with disabilities.

“The thing I enjoy most about volunteering is the chance to give back to the community”.