My time as a volunteer at the Head Office of a community transport service organisation has been eye-opening.

As with all business sectors, there are legal and regulatory obligations in the “not for profit” sector too.

They are funded by government, so all clients have to be registered with them as well as with the national aged care service.

With volunteer drivers, Head Office must have copies of driving licences, valid for five years. Also a national police check, valid for three years. An annual statutory declaration is needed for the interim years and a new legal requirement is “working with vulnerable people” registration, also valid for three years.

The fleet of vehicles have to be maintained, serviced, inspected, accidents reported, repairs done.

This all sounds straight forward until you realise that the organisation involves:
~ 400 plus active volunteer drivers
~ 74 vehicles ~ including 30 commuter buses, some with wheelchair ramps
~ 3,500 clients have used the service in past 6 months
~ 2 million total kilometres driven a year
~ 100,000 trips recorded
~ Fuel bill was just over $300,000

This is all operated by 10 staff in head office, 14 regional co-ordinators and 2 team leaders. Many of the staff are part time, some job share.

I can’t emphasise enough how valuable the experience has been to me, utilising my “gap year” brain in useful activity, improving my confidence, pushing me out of my comfort zone on occasion.

My office skills are not as rusty as I thought. It didn’t take long to understand the tasks and I soon got back to my old nosy self, wanting to understand the big picture of the organisation, how the various jobs fit together. I’ve assisted in a variety of office tasks from filing to financial reconciliations.

I soon heard myself using phrases that I had not thought about in twenty months. MI (management information), continuous improvement, “four eyes” (when 2 people sign off on a process), RAG’s (red, amber, green indicators).

It’s fun and I enjoy going to the office each day, the chat and banter and feeling that I have achieved something during the day. My internal alarm clock has returned and getting up on dark winter mornings is not so daunting.

There is a new chapter to this story which I will write about later.

If you missed part one, you can find it here.