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“It will not be possible to manage without full-time employees”

“It will not be possible to manage without full-time employees”
14,000 compatriots had signed the volunteer manifesto.

It has been two years since the OÖNachrichten, together with the voluntary rescue and security organizations in the state, developed the “Volunteer Manifesto”. Some of the demands made in it (such as the establishment of a service center for volunteers) have been implemented, but one central point remains open: the organizations are pushing for “volunteer structural support”. Public funds are to be used to employ full-time employees who will, for example, take care of recruiting and supporting volunteers. A lot of money is at stake: several dozen full-time positions would be needed nationwide.

In an interview with the OÖN, state fire brigade commander Robert Mayer underlined the high value placed on volunteers in the state: “We are talking about services that are 99 percent provided on a voluntary basis and that we must safeguard for the future.” What would structural support look like in an ideal scenario from the fire brigade’s point of view? “We would like to have 15 employees to support our district commanders with administrative tasks,” says Mayr.

For the smaller rescue organizations, such as the water rescue service, it would be the first time that a full-time employee would help with the organization. “This involves issues such as member administration, training plans, warehousing or the procurement of emergency equipment,” says Martin Eberl, deputy state director of the water rescue service. Currently, these tasks are also handled by volunteer officials. But that will no longer be possible in the long term, says Eberl. “Regardless of whether the funding comes through, we are already looking for an office worker. Of course, we find it difficult to finance this. But it will not be possible without full-time employees,” says Eberl.

The Red Cross primarily wants support in looking after volunteers: “We invest a lot in recruitment and in training and further education. This should be done by full-time employees,” says President Walter Aichinger.

The state of Upper Austria is currently developing a volunteer strategy. A consulting agency has been commissioned to conduct a survey. It is still unclear whether and when the structural funding will be implemented. “We have the impression that there is currently a lack of momentum,” says state fire chief Mayer.

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Source: Nachrichten

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