Australia has an estimated 250,000 emergency service volunteers, each of them vital to the country’s capability to respond to emergencies and disasters. But their contribution is under threat, with both the number of people involved in formal volunteering and the number of hours individuals are dedicating to these roles declining in recent years.

With historically low representation from women, Indigenous, culturally diverse and LGBTI groups across emergency service volunteer ranks, organisations are beginning to realise that attracting and retaining a more diverse volunteer pool is not only beneficial – it's vital to their survival.

In our latest essay, we share the stories of volunteers from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds who are already making an impact out in the field, and paving the way for broader institutional change.

Through each of their unique perspectives, we hear about the challenges they have faced, what they have gained and, importantly, how their organisations and their broader communities have benefited from their service.