15 May 2023

It's National Volunteer Week

National Volunteer Week, developed by Volunteering Australia, runs from Monday 15 May to Sunday 21 May 2023. It’s Australia's largest annual celebration of volunteers and this year’s theme is ‘The Change Makers’, which celebrates the power we all have to drive change.

Volunteer members are integral to the ADAVB, as they give back to our profession and have input in guiding the direction of the Association. The ADAVB is truly fortunate to have so many members volunteer their time, knowledge and skills to support and guide its work. The ADAVB thanks every one of these volunteers, including those:

  • serving on the ADAVB Council or Committees
  • representing the ADAVB by providing oral health promotion at events
  • giving seminars or presentations
  • mentoring colleagues in our Mentoring Program
  • compiling our Clinical Updates
  • contributing information or policy advice.

The ADAVB has volunteer opportunities open at various times over the year, notifications for which appear in our printed and online communications.

Nominations are now open to join an ADAVB committee.  Visit adavb.org/about/our-people/committees for full details and nominate before 30 June 2023.

On Monday 11 September from 6.30 – 8.30pm, we will host our biennial ADAVB Volunteer Information Night, showcasing the volunteer opportunities available and allowing you to interact with current or former volunteers. We hope to see you there!

The ADAVB isn’t the only avenue through which you can give back to your profession and use your dentistry knowledge and skills to benefit the community. The eviDent Foundation and the Australian Dental Health Foundation (ADHF) are two other organisations that welcome volunteers.

EviDent often seeks support from volunteers – for both large roles like serving on a committee and small contributions, such as completing a survey for research. Visit evident.org.au to learn more.

The ADHF seeks to improve the dental health of Australians who cannot easily access or afford dental care through several programs and grants. Through the ADHF, dentists provide their time, expertise and practice facilities at no cost to eligible patients. See adhf.org.au to find out more.

Top five reasons to volunteer

Volunteering is certainly not thankless! The value in being a volunteer is immense. A 2022 Australian National University survey asked respondents their reasons for volunteering.

“Just over seven-in-10 volunteers selected ‘personal satisfaction/to do something worthwhile’ and just over six-in-10 of volunteers selected to ‘help others/the community’. Other common reasons given for volunteering include ‘social contact’ (33.3%), ‘use skills/experience’ (32.3%) and ‘be active’ (27.8%).”[1]

Reasons like ‘helping others’ are self-explanatory but there are other benefits of volunteering.

1. Connect

Volunteering allows you to connect with others who have similar interests. You can both grow your social network and expand your professional network. This is certainly evident when volunteering with the ADAVB. Dentistry can be a very isolating profession, but by volunteering, you can connect with other dentists across the state. These connections can have social and professional benefits.

2. Use your skills and knowledge

You may have skills and knowledge that you are unable to use on a day-to-day basis that you can put to use in a volunteering role. For instance, mentoring young dentists allows you to use communication and educational skills that may otherwise go untapped. And as we know, the more you use your knowledge and skills, the more the more they grow. Which leads us to point 3…

3. Build your skills and knowledge

When you connect with a group of volunteers to work towards a common purpose, you can learn and grow your skills, knowledge and experience. This is especially true when working alongside older, more experienced colleagues. So, when considering volunteering opportunities, don’t just look towards those where you have the most knowledge, skills and experience – reach into areas in which you would like to grow!

4. Benefit your health

Various studies world-wide have shown a positive correlation between volunteering and health.

According to Volunteer Victoria, volunteers “are happier, healthier and sleep better than those who don’t volunteer”.[2]

Jeanne Segal, Ph. D. and Lawrence Robinson, writing for HelpGuide.org, explained: ‘Studies have found that those who volunteer have a lower mortality rate than those who do not. Older volunteers tend to walk more, find it easier to cope with everyday tasks, are less likely to develop high blood pressure, and have better thinking skills. Volunteering can also lessen symptoms of chronic pain and reduce the risk of heart disease.”[3]

And it’s not just physical health that benefits; your mental health can also get a boost by helping others.

“By measuring hormones and brain activity, researchers have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Human beings are hard-wired to give to others. The more we give, the happier we feel,” Jeanne Segal, Ph. D. and Lawrence Robinson wrote.

5. Challenge yourself

Volunteering allows you to challenge yourself. From simply learning to undertake more activities throughout the week, to undertaking an activity that is foreign or difficult. Even the social interaction may be challenging if you’re introverted. All these challenges allow you to grow and add to the spice of life.

So what are you waiting for?

This National Volunteer Month, reach out to organisations in your community – whether it’s the ADAVB, eviDent or something else entirely – and start giving back while reaping your own rewards.

[1] Biddle, N., Boyer, C., Gray, M., & Jahromi, M. (2022) Volunteering in Australia: The Volunteer Perspective. Volunteering Australia, volunteeringstrategy.org.au/wpcontent/uploads/2022/10/Volunteering-in-Australia-2022-The-Volunteer-Perspective.pdf

[2] Volunteering Victoria, www.volunteeringvictoria.org.au 

[3] Jeanne Segal, Ph. D. and Lawrence Robinson, Volunteering and its surprising benefits, HelpGuide.org, www.helpguide.org/articles/healthy-living/volunteering-and-its-surprising-benefits.htm