Become a WDP volunteer in Melbourne!

Credit: Westend Photography

 

The Welcome Dinner Project thrives thanks to the incredible generosity of everyday people willing to open their hearts, minds and homes to welcome people of all backgrounds to their communities.

In volunteering with the Welcome Dinner Project, you will be joining a growing movement to make your community more kind, connected and welcoming.  In Victoria we have a twice yearly recruitment program that is based on our volunteer needs in the community hubs where we work.

Our summer season WDP volunteer intake has now closed! If you applied, you should be contacted by WDP volunteers in your area by early January.

Our next WDP volunteer intake will take place in winter 2018. You can express your interest to join that intake here.

How do I become a volunteer?

  1. Read the Position Description here, watch this video and read the Frequently Asked Questions below.
  2. Express your interest here.
  3. If you are shortlisted you will be called by a current WDP volunteer. Our next WDP volunteer intake will take place in winter 2018 so expect to hear from us around July or August.
  4. If you are successful, you will be asked to attend a Volunteer Induction workshop, sign our volunteer agreement and undergo a Police Check/provide a reference.
  5. Facilitate your first dinner, with support from an experienced WDP volunteer.
  6. Once you’ve been active volunteer for 6 months, you will have the option of learning how to coordinate dinners.

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We answer some questions you might have…

Can I still volunteer if I don’t speak fluent English?

Yes, in fact if you are asking this question then we encourage you to apply Contact vic@joiningthedots.org if you need help understanding the application form.

What do you mean when you use the word ‘season’?

The Welcome Dinner Project is aligned with nature’s natural rhythms in Melbourne’s temperate climate. We come together to plan dinners every three months  – i.e. summer, autumn. Winter and spring.

The events we run will also differ depending on the season.

Summer (December – February) and Autumn (March – May) with its warm weather is full of festive community dinners. We also recruit and induct a new group of volunteers early in the summer to prepare for the busy-ness this season brings.

The cold winter (June – August) suits cosy home dinners as well as rest and reflection on what we’ve learnt from the past seasons. Towards the end of winter we also prepare to recruit and induct another group of new volunteers.

Spring (September – November) is when most plants and animals are born so that’s when we run a retreat for experienced volunteers to learn how to coordinate dinners.

And then it all starts again

Does WDP – Victoria have an office?

No WDP – Victoria does not have a central office:  we all work from our homes or shared office spaces. It can make things slightly more challenging but it also means WDP is incredibly flexible.

Welcome Dinners are organised by groups of volunteers located around Melbourne , and supported with guidance and resources from the Victorian State Coordinators and WDP National Team. At the induction workshop you will be introduced to the WDP volunteers who are already in your area (we call these ‘WDP hubs’) and who will help you facilitate your first home dinner in a host’s house.

Currently we cover the council areas seen below. If you have any questions about what’s happening in your area over the summer, feel free to contact the person listed below:

Inner north WDP hub (Moreland, Moonee Valley, Darebin) contact Katie on moreland@joiningthedots.org

Inner west WDP hub (Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay, Brimbank) contact Josephine on maribyrnong@joiningthedots.org

Outer west WDP hub (Wyndham) contact Erum on wyndham@joiningthedots.org

Central WDP hub (City of Melbourne, City of Port Phillip) contact Shelton on yarra@joiningthedots.org

East WDP hub (Maroondah, Whitehorse, Boroondara, Stonnington) contact Trish on maroondah@joiningthedots.org

Southeast WDP hub (Monash, Dandenong, Frankston) contact Garry on frankston@joiningthedots.org

How do you select volunteers?

Generally, we are looking for a few things in your application:

  • Your ability to commit to WDP
  • Your motivation to join the movement
  • Your gifts and talents that could benefit the work we do in local communities
  • your openness to meet people from all over the world with different stories to tell

We want to grow sustainably so each of our hubs have thought carefully about how many new volunteers they are able to support in this recruitment round and what kind of skills they need.  If there are a lot of applicants from your area, we unfortunately may not be able to take you all in this season’s recruitment round.

Our state co-coordinators will be answering questions about WDP Victoria and the application process on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WDPVictoria. Join a Facebook Live stream by visiting the page on Tuesday 5th December from 6:30pm – 7:30pm AEST.

What are the benefits of being a WDP volunteer?

We aim for you to leave WDP with an enhanced capacity to act as a change agent as well as:


  • A professional reference

  • Certificates in First aid,  and food handling
  • Increased empathy

  • Greater self awareness

  • Facilitation microskills

  • Skills such as event management, organisation, conflict resolution, problem solving, critical thinking, creative thinking, reflective capacity.

  • Digital capacities & remote working experience

  • An expanded community and sense of belonging

  • Research skills

  • Pitching skills

  • Negotiation skills

What is expected of me if I join WDP?

There are two main roles associated with each Welcome Dinner – facilitators and coordinators. New WDP volunteers are trained to facilitate dinners (more information about that here) and once active for 6 months, have the option of learning how to coordinate dinners (more information about that here).

But there are always other things we need help with – graphic design, marketing, training etc – so we will invite you to contribute other things you are passionate, skilled and knowledgeable about!

Do I need to be a good facilitator to join WDP?

You don’t need to have any facilitation experience to join WDP – our induction and professional development program will give you the training you need to facilitate a welcome dinner. What’s more important to us is that you see all experiences as an opportunity to learn and are:

  • Collaborative
  • Flexible
  • Enthusiastic
  • Organised
  • Friendly
  • Reliable
  • Fun-loving
  • Passionate about working with people from all backgrounds
  • Committed to building relationships
  • Responsive to emails/phone calls

What happens in the induction program?

During the induction program, new WDP volunteers learn:

  • What WDP is and why it started
  • Our unique process for organising a welcome dinner
  • Scenario-based learning about facilitating in inter-cultural settings, managing risks, and overcoming barriers to connection with others
  • Group-based facilitation skills
  • How to work virtually using online collaborative tools
  • How to give an acknowledgement of country
  • How to keep food as a safe as possible

We try to make the induction meaningful and fun, just like Welcome Dinners!

The 2018 summer induction program is structured as follows:

January 2018: Online modules sent to newly selected volunteers

Saturday 3 February 2018: Full day training in central Melbourne

Sunday 4 February 2018: Full day training in inner western suburbs

Saturday 10 February 2018: Full day training in outer western suburbs

Sunday 11 February 2018: Full day training in eastern suburbs

Saturday 17 February 2018: Full day training in southeastern suburbs

Sunday 18 February 2018: Full day training in inner northern suburbs

Acknowledgement of Country training, First Aid training and Food Safety training will take place after the induction program.

You will be required to:

  • Complete the online modules over the month of January
  • Attend one of the training workshops (preferably in your local area). Food will be provided and transport costs will covered for volunteers who need it.
  • Attend the acknowledgement of country workshop
  • Obtain a food safety certification

What is an Acknowledgement of Country and why do you train volunteers for it?

Unless we have Aboriginal ancestry, we are relatively recent arrivals to Australia. We all have to grapple with the uncomfortable reality that the settler state of Australia was not welcomed by most Aboriginal people.

As such, WDP is passionate and committed to supporting Aboriginal sovereignty and self determination. This will only be achieved if all of us who live in Australia learn this country’s real history and current situation, ideally directly from Aboriginal people themselves.

An Acknowledgement of Country is conducted at the beginning of every Welcome Dinner by the dinner facilitators. The Acknowledgement pays respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land that the dinner is held on and intends to educate and encourage dinner guests to think about what they can do to support Aboriginal sovereignty and self determination.

We expect all WDP volunteers to take the time to learn how to properly Acknowledge Country. We are incredibly lucky to have Dean Stewart, a Wemba-Wemba Wergaia man who runs Aboriginal Tours and Education Melbourne (A-TAEM), run his Birrarung Marr walking tour as part of our Acknowledgement of Country training. Learn more about the training here.

WDP also endeavours to have Aboriginal Elders conduct Welcome to Country ceremonies at all Community Welcome Dinners and invites all Aboriginal people to join the WDP movement as dinner guests and volunteers.

To learn more about how you can support Aboriginal people, we recommend watching the SBS series First Australians and reading Decolonising Solidarity.

Can I volunteer for just one month?

As we invest a lot of time and love in training and supporting each other to grow, we normally ask all WDP volunteers to commit to 12 months in the project (though volunteers are welcome to take breaks from WDP during busy periods in their life and return at a later date). We hope you would be able to commit a minimum 12 hours per season, which could include facilitating a dinner, attending a professional development training, responding to discussions in our volunteer Facebook group.

Most volunteers are active for a number of years because it’s such a fun and joyful experience!

How often do you take new volunteers?

We run two volunteer recruitments and inductions per year – in summer (January/February) and winter (July/August). We have chosen this approach to ensure we can run high quality training programs and support new volunteers to find their place in the community.

If you are keen to join as a WDP volunteer and applications are not open at the time you see this, contact the volunteers in your area to express interest in attending a dinner as a guest.

What is a ‘typical’ WDP volunteer like?

The people in WDP come from all backgrounds, ages and experiences. There is no ‘typical’ WDP volunteer. We do aim for 50% of our volunteers to be established Australians and 50% of our volunteers to be newly arrived community members..

Do I need a Police Check and a Working With Children Check?

All Australian permanent residents / citizens will need to have a current Victorian police check (not more than 3 years old) before joining the induction program. Volunteers who are accepted into WDP will have the cost of the police check covered by WDP if they do not already have a current police check. People who are not either permanent residents or Australian citizens will be asked to provide a written reference from someone they are connected to in Australia (e.g. case worker, teacher, employer etc).

Working with Children Checks are not compulsory for WDP volunteers.

I am under 18. Can I be a volunteer?

Unfortunately we are not currently able to support volunteers under the age of 18. However we encourage your parent/guardian to volunteer with us and then they can bring you along 🙂

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It was an honour to host Australian people in our home.

– Mohannad & Maisoon (newly arrived family, refugee background)

Testimonial Author

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