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Volunteer Work in Australia – The Big Picture


Monday, 9th July 2001 at 1:07 pm
Staff Reporter
Volunteer Work makes an important contribution to national life and never more so than in the last twelve months. A nation-wide survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a healthy growth in volunteer rates in 2000.

Monday, 9th July 2001
at 1:07 pm
Staff Reporter


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Volunteer Work in Australia – The Big Picture
Monday, 9th July 2001 at 1:07 pm

Volunteer Work makes an important contribution to national life and never more so than in the last twelve months. A nation-wide survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a healthy growth in volunteer rates in 2000.

In the Survey of Volunteer Work a volunteer is defined as someone who willingly gave unpaid help in the form of time, service or skills, through an organisation or group.

The survey found that nearly 33%, which is about 4.4 million Australians aged 18 and over, did voluntary work in 2000. Back in 1995 the estimated 3.1 million volunteers represented 24% of the population.

Growth in volunteer rates occurred for both sexes and across all age groups but particularly the 18-24 (from 17% to 27%) and the 55-64 (from 24% to 33%) age groups.

Taking a look at the big picture, volunteers contributed 704.1 million hours of unpaid work and almost a third of volunteers worked for more than one organisation.

In addition to donating time, more than 75% of all Australians (10.3 million) made personal monetary donations in the 12 months before being interviewed for the survey.

Volunteer rates varied across States and Territories. They were the highest in South Australia peaking at 38% and the lowest in New South Wales at 29%.

According to the ABS survey, people were more likely to be volunteers if they lived outside a capital city. The volunteer rate is 28% for capital cities compared to 38% outside the capital cities.

Overall women were more likely to volunteer than men (33% compared to 31%) but among people aged 55 years and over this pattern was reversed.

People aged 35-44 years reported the highest rate of volunteering placing them at 40%. In this age group they are more likely to be married with children and their higher than average volunteer rates reflect family commitments. This is particularly the case for women.

The survey found that people born in Australia (35%) were more likely to undertake voluntary work than those born outside Australia (25%).

Sport and Recreation organisations attracted the largest number of men with community and welfare groups attracting the largest number of women.

Fundraising and management were the most commonly reported activities. Women were twice as likely as men to prepare and serve food whereas men were nearly three times likely as women to do repairs, maintenance and gardening and nearly twice as likely to be coaching and refereeing.

Regular weekly voluntary work accounted for nearly three-quarters of all voluntary hours worked, indicating a substantial commitment of time, skill and effort on the part of the volunteers.

The survey found that almost half of all volunteers gave their time because it provides benefits to the community and a similar proportion volunteered because they found it personally satisfying.

And just in case you’re wondering, voluntary work for the Sydney 2000 Olympic and Paralympic Games were explicitly excluded from the survey estimates. However data provided by the Sydney Organising Committee (SOCOG) shows there were around 47,500 Olympic volunteers, the majority coming from NSW.

And here are just a few more numbers to digest. The survey provided an estimate of 4.4 million volunteers. In total they had 6.5 million involvements with organisations, undertook 15.7 million activities and contributed 704.1 million hours of voluntary work!

If you would like to receive the 19-page electronic summary of findings of Volunteer Work, Australia just drop us an e-mail to probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.




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