Update : 20 year anniversary of the UN International Year of the Volunteer

Issue date:

The UFBA has made inquiries with FENZ about the possibility of recognising the 20th anniversary of the United Nations International year of the volunteer, perhaps by issuing another medal. Because the United Nations has not sanctioned any official recognition we will not be pursuing the medal. There is simply no UN mandate to issue an honour in the name of the UN. Instead, we will continue to work with FENZ on the ongoing reward and recognition programmes they are running.

Please find below, a message from FENZ on this subject:

Re: The United Nations International Year Of the Volunteer - the United Nations has not committed to marking the 20 year anniversary

Recently we have had a few enquiries about Fire and Emergency NZ's role in the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer.

2021 is 20 years since the United Nations International Year of the Volunteer. Early this year we contacted the United Nations to see if the 20 year anniversary of the United Nations International Year of Volunteers (IYV) would be marked, as it was at 10 years. The United Nations' response was that they had not decided if and how the anniversary would be marked, and that they had no further information to share. We checked in again recently and there is no further update.

Given the United Nations has not committed to this anniversary, unfortunately we are unable to progress with recognising this United Nations event.

It is our intention instead, that we ensure decisions on volunteer recognition will be informed by our current volunteer recognition review, which is anchored in our volunteer perspectives, as well as the broader workforce recognition approach. 

Update on our work to recognise volunteers

Fire and Emergency NZ is committed to recognising, respecting, and promoting the contribution of our  volunteers. We understand that recognising all our people is important. We also understand that recognition of our volunteers, their families/whānau and employers, in particular,  is also an important part of sustainable volunteerism and community wellbeing. Not only is recognising our volunteers a requirement under the FENZ Act (2017), volunteer recognition forms are a core part of our volunteerism strategy - reflected in both its volunteerism principles, and the strategy’s outcome areas.

Fire and Emergency currently delivers a suite of recognition initiatives to volunteers that were either inherited from legacy organisations or developed at an earlier stage of Fire and Emergency NZ’s integration. As part of our work to implement the organisation’s volunteerism strategy, we are conducting a review to better understand the value of our current mix of volunteer recognition activities and evolve our approach.  

The volunteer recognition review examines how the current recognition approach compares to good practice and what our volunteers are seeking, as well as how effectively it is contributing to the volunteerism and organisational outcomes we seek. The purpose is to ensure we are investing in the right mix of recognition practices, so our volunteers (and their families and employers) feel appreciated and acknowledged in a way that contributes to an effective, resilient, and engaged volunteer workforce. 

For this volunteer recognition review to be effective, volunteer voices need to be at its centre. We are surveying our volunteers and conducting a series of follow-up interviews on our recognition activities. We expect the first stage of this work to be completed by August. 

For further information on different recognition offerings, please refer to the volunteer hub. Our volunteerism strategy 6 month progress report Dec-May also outlines examples of current activities. It will be available on the volunteer hub and our website from 30th June.