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Empowering Volunteers Through Health Literacy

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Barwon Health, the largest and most comprehensive regional health services in Australia, concluded several years ago that its 1,000 volunteers were ready and able to improve the health of their community. So in February 2014, the health service implemented a Volunteer Training and Development program that provided volunteers with opportunities to expand their healthcare knowledge, participate more concretely in the health service's mission, and ultimately build an empowered, healthy, and sustainable volunteer base for the future.

In this e-Volunteerism feature, Barwon Health’s Lyn Stack writes that “by investing in our volunteers through health knowledge, we utilise their support to directly improve the health and wellness of our community, while also providing volunteers with opportunities to increase confidence and decrease fear of entering the health sector.”  Stack describes how the program has expanded in two years to include Australia’s first Volunteer Health and Wellness Calendar, a Healthy Living Ambassadors program, and a national public awareness campaign to help volunteers expand their own health awareness to others. “By sharing this program,” Stack writes, “we can empower all volunteer leaders to invest in and reward their volunteers through the power of knowledge.”