The Leaders of Health Volunteer Engagement (LOHVE) Network was founded in 2011 by Sharon Walsh from Bendigo Health (Chair) and Kerryn Mitchell from Northeast Health Wangaratta as an opportunity to gather health volunteer managers and coordinators in the Central and Northern regions of Victoria. This network has grown from eight attendees at the first meeting to now more than 150 members from all across Australia and New Zealand. This is a sector specific network that hosts members from public and private, rural, regional and metropolitan hospitals and community health, palliative care, residential aged care and health associations.
The purpose of the Network is to guide and support Health Leaders in Volunteer Management in the provision of well structured, integrated programs that are inclusive and benefit clients, volunteers, health services and community alike. The objectives of the network are to promote leadership within health volunteer programs, to provide a reference point for benchmarking of our services and to provide information back to health services and peak bodies to ensure that volunteer programs are understood and supported into the future. Our aim is to share information where possible to assist each other to establish, improve and grow individual health facility volunteer programs and to act as in advisory capacity to peak bodies such as Volunteering Victoria, Volunteering Australia and Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers and in turn act on recommendations from these organisations where appropriate.
Since commencement, the Network has become a leader in the Volunteering Sector with many things to celebrate:
Created and implemented a world first annual benchmark of health volunteer programs in 2013 based on the 2012 calendar year. In 2016 in recognition of the work, Bendigo Health’s Director, Volunteer Services was awarded the State Volunteering Victoria Thought Leadership – Practitioner Award in 2016 for her work in collecting, collating and reporting on the LOHVE Networks Benchmarking findings.
In 2014 the LOHVE Network commenced providing feedback to the Secretariat of the Minister for Health Volunteer Awards to make some positive improvements that would ensure that future ceremonies would see all health volunteers celebrated in a way that truly showed impact to patients, health services and community alike. This collaboration continues to see these ceremonies getting better and better each year.
When dissatisfaction at a volunteering conference that had little topics around leadership, Bendigo Health partnered with Barwon Health in 2015 to host Australia’s First Leadership in Health Volunteering Conference. In order to build a one-day fit for purpose conference, Bendigo Health and Barwon Health worked with the LOHVE Network to source topics and speakers that were of greatest need and interest for the Network. The LOHVE Network was awarded the 2016 Team Leadership Award by the Australasian Association of Managers of Volunteers (AAMoV) Team of Leaders Award for this initiative.
In 2017 The Ministerial Council for Volunteers commenced in Victoria with the health sector being represented by one of our LOHVE members. Zoe Waters (Barwon Health) was appointed to the MAC for a period of two years to help government and the wider volunteering sector to better understand the needs, challenges and opportunities for the health sector volunteers and their leaders.
2018 saw an exciting new addition to the Statement of Priorities documents for all public health services; volunteer engagement.
Volunteers have a strong history in Victoria’s public health services and add immense value to both the patient and visitor experience. The inclusion of volunteer engagement was a source of great pride for volunteers and volunteer managers who had long advocated for the recognition of the role volunteers play in our health system.
After feedback by the LOHVE network regarding concerns by health volunteer managers with regard to the issue of ongoing and future sustainability of volunteering in our health services, it was suggested that the health sector could take a lead and have volunteer engagement front and centre as a mandatory priority for all public health services in the Statement of Priorities.
In addition, the LOHVE network has partnered with the La Trobe University to undertake the Defining the scope of volunteering practice within health and aged care services project. The project will develop a capability framework for leaders of volunteers in health and aged care services, and an implementation strategy to embed the framework in practice and professionalise the role of volunteer management within the health sector.