Recent data out of St John Ambulance Victoria suggests that 32% of the membership complete 72% of the duties hours, therefore there a large number of members that complete very few service hours at all (Foran, FAS Public Events Presentation, Slide 6, 2011). Although this data cannot be generalised to the broader St John Ambulance Australia (St John) membership this data provides anecdotal evidence that this may be an issue worth researching across the organisation. If this is the case, a high proportion of members may not be effectively engaged with St John. The 18–26 age group may find that more involvement in their volunteer activities is challenging, as this is a time in their lives where study, entering the workforce or starting a family is common. The 18–26 age groups may be an area where a significant increase in engagement may be possible if the opportunities and barriers to engagement are identified, and incentives or opportunities to better meet the needs of this target group are found.

For the purpose of this research, ‘engagement’ referred to increasing service hours and continuing to retain the target group within St John. According to the St John Formal Service Recognition Guidelines (2011), service hours may be gained through a number of volunteer activities, not just by attending first aid duties. Examples of service hours may include, but are not limited to, participating in first aid events, facilitating training or activities in a division, fund-raising activities, divisional administration tasks and being a part of youth councils or working groups. This is an important definition to discuss at the beginning of this research because it widens the definition and flexibility of service. This wider and more flexible definition of service allows for a more varied approach to effectively engaging our members.

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