I joined (this is my second time) because I believed that a national organisation would benefit homeschooling in Australia. Plus I have a lot of energy to give away and wanted to work with other people. I've given a lot of time and energy over the years to supporting and promoting home education but mostly on my own. I wanted to work with others with the same goals and interests as myself, particularly so that I could learn how to work efficiently within a cooperative environment. I'm always learning!
I tend to jump in at the deep end with community involvement and volunteered to be on the committee. Other members volunteer in other ways, but most members don't get involved in the running of the organisation. The HEA sends out a bi-monthly (or thereabouts) newsletter, and is about to start producing a bi-monthly homeschooling
magazine in the alternative months too. That's my main interest, plus as I organise the odd event I take advantage of the volunteer insurance offered by the policy the HEA has taken out.
I've always found that it is hard to gauge the benefits of an organisation until one needs information, products or services (benefits) personally. Most of the time when I've been a member of something I've not had to use the services and that has led to me questioning the value of remaining a member. I dropped out of one organisation a couple of years ago and then, within months, suddenly needed information from them, so rejoined.
For me, the main benefit of being a member of the HEA is that I can part of an organisation that has over 800 homeschooling families as members. Being able to 'talk' to them through the newsletter, and to get feedback from them, is reassuring. Even after two decades of homeschooling experience I find that I still have much to learn about home education from these families. It is the sharing of information and the sense of belonging that keeps me 'at the coal face'.
Plus, I like the idea of belonging to something this is enduring, that won't disappear next week, or when the homeschooled children grow up or families move on.
Not everyone will find being a member beneficial or useful, and some people will have had negative experiences, either as members or not as members. That is the nature of organisations. It is hard to meet the needs of everyone in a 'family' without considerable compromise. When I was younger I would have found this annoying and would have been a lot more demanding.
© Beverley Paine
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