Valuing Volunteers

This month, our president Steve Westaway discusses the importance of The Tax Institute’s volunteers and engagement with its members.

I’d like to say I have a lot to report, given our election is over and our new government is formed, but I haven’t. I am waiting like everyone else. Our key ministers are still putting their advisers in place and prioritising government business.

The Tax Institute, like many other bodies and taxpayers, is waiting to learn the state of play. Which of the 120-plus announced but unenacted measures are to stay? What measures will be proceeded with and which election promises will be prioritised? I sincerely hope we don’t get a set of draft releases on Christmas Eve.

My role as president has not solely been around tax policy and advocacy. It involves all aspects of The Tax Institute’s strategy and operations. As I have said regularly, the Institute’s strength comes from both volunteer engagement and member willingness to participate in Institute activities. The Institute regularly receives feedback from its members and through external surveys. We continue to rank on all measurements as a leading, successful member body. This doesn't mean we stop at that. As a member body, we are constantly seeking better ways to engage with our members. Be that the way we communicate with members through email, print, our iPad app, LinkedIn and Twitter, or the way we engage with our volunteers.

Our national and state councils have been participating in projects to look at ways to continue to grow this success. We recognise that our members’ time is precious and we compete for their attention in what is becoming an ever- increasing competitive environment where people are becoming “time-poor”. This is not just an Australian issue, as research on volunteering has shown that people do not have as much time to commit to member organisations as they used to. People are looking at shorter, more infrequent interactions. They are willing to give their time but in much more focused and measured ways. As a member body, we need to adopt and meet these changing dynamics to ensure that we are relevant. Keep the best of what we are and add to it. I’m pleased to say that recent workshops run by the Institute continue to provide new innovation and direction. These projects or opportunities are being rolled into our strategy and direction for 2014.


Stephen Westaway is President of the National Council at The Tax Institute.

The Tax Institute is Australia's leading professional association in tax. Its 13,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia.


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