Professional Development Program

Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management

What is the Professional Development Program?

The Professional Development Program usually occurs over the course of a year and involves a series of workshops, projects and assessments. Winner of the 2013 SA Adult Learners Program of the Year Award, the Program aims to provide an opportunity to extend your skills and knowledge. Developed by Volunteer Program Managers for Volunteer Program Managers, the Program focuses on the management of volunteer programs.

Philosophy of the program

The Program was designed to meet a need of individuals involved in managing volunteer programs for a number of years and who wanted a qualification with a focus on volunteerism. It was built on several key ideas:

    1. High workplace relevance, particularly to the management of volunteer resources;
    2. Enhancing knowledge and skills specifically of volunteer managers;
    3. The opportunity to impact the wider volunteer sector;
    4. Completion of a formal, accredited qualification i.e. the Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management.


There are a number of objectives:

    1. Participation in a Professional Development Program focussed on practical workplace implementation of theory;
    2. Completion of the Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management;
    3. Implementation of learning directly into the workplace;
    4. Enabling participants to impact the wider volunteer sector through a mentoring program as mentors;
    5. Development of a learning community featuring like-minded people centred on their local Volunteer Resource Centre.

The PDP will have a strong focus on workplace projects; application of innovation techniques learned throughout the qualification and applied professional reflection.

Is the Program for me?

Firstly, to obtain the most benefit you need to be in a current role managing volunteers. There is no restriction on the size or scope of the volunteer program, but it must be a clearly identifiable program. The Professional Development Program aims to up-skill volunteer program managers who have some experience in working and managing volunteer resources. A minimum 2 years’ experience is recommended. The Program will focus on extending an existing knowledge and skill base. It is not suitable for individuals new in volunteer management. The Program will not cover the ‘ABC’s of volunteer program management. The Program has been developed in consultation with a number of highly experienced volunteer program managers. The workload is not onerous, but as assessments are work focussed, you will need the opportunity to put them into practice in the workplace. If you are applying for Government funding under Skills Connect or another Workforce Development Fund, you will need to be a paid employee with the role of managing volunteer programs. The qualification should also be a part of an identified workforce development program.

Structure of the PDP

In brief, the program will include:

1. 6 two-day workshops spread out over the course of a year. The workshop topics may vary depending, but will generally cover:

  • Innovation and change management;
  • Project management;
  • Mentoring and coaching;
  • Human resource management;
  • Strategic planning;
  • Managing finances and managing risk; and
  • Professional reflection.

2. Participation in a time limited, structured mentoring relationship with a Volunteer Program Manager outside your organisation. This will be a formal mentoring relationship involving the establishment of formal learning goals. Mentees will be interviewed and selected to participate in the course and matched up with Program participants.

3. Completion of readings, assessments and small work projects.

4. Completion of a major workplace project incorporating much of the learning within the course. The Project will occur throughout at least half the Program.

5. Participation in a learning community via various IT tools.

Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management

The Program will involve the completion of requirements for the Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management (CHC62015)

Program Assumptions

      There are several underlying assumptions in this course for participants:

  • Participants will need to undergo an initial skills assessment prior to being accepted in the Program;
  • Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) will be obtained for a specific number of competencies focusing around volunteer management;
  • The written support of management to release the student to participate;
  • The opportunity to complete a major workplace project over a number of months which will form a critical component of assessment;
  • If individuals have to undertake additional gap training this cost will need to be met by the participants and is outside the funded                 component of  this course.
  • Attendance at all workshops;
  • Completion of all assessments;
  • Participation in a mentoring program with someone outside the organisation;
  • Access to the internet;
  • Active ongoing participation in the Program’s learning community.


The workload is not onerous. There will be projects and work related assessments resulting from the practical philosophy underpinning the whole course. Allow up to 4 hours per week out of class hours. Project work undertaken within the workplace will also count towards assessed hours. Participants will complete a Log Book during the Program to record experiences and subsequent reflections.

Mentoring Program

Northern Volunteering (SA) developed a mentoring program in 2010. This program provides the opportunity for experienced volunteer program managers to implement course learning and be involved in the development of another manager Men-tees will usually be selected in conjunction with the local Volunteer Resource Centre. The mentoring program is an opportunity for advanced practitioners to be involved in the development of the ‘next generation’ of volunteer program managers.

Workplace Project

An integral component of this professional development year is the workplace project. This project will involve the application of techniques, skills and knowledge learned throughout the program. Projects will vary in size and scope between individuals and organisations. Our focus is on the process of implementation. One organisation may involve modifications and improvements to a program, for another it may be the development of an entirely new program. While the scope is variable, we will focus on ensuring the project is not simply a theoretical assignment but the practical application of what is learned. We anticipate the project will cover the entire program and that you will collect information and evidence as you go along. We will monitor progress as we go along. This is an exciting opportunity to bring change and innovation into your organisation, don’t miss it!


This course is an excellent opportunity to expand and develop as a professional. Studying with like minded professionals facilitated by volunteer management practitioners who understand the issues and challenges of working with volunteer programs will enhance and expand your thinking and ability to innovate. You are participating in a learning community of like minded professionals. This unique environment allows us to explore theory and apply it in the workplace.