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Why Don’t Aussies Volunteer?

Tuesday, 14th October 2014 at 9:52 am
Xavier Smerdon
A new Curtin University research project is examining why people choose not to volunteer and how Australia can build a sustainable volunteer sector.

Tuesday, 14th October 2014
at 9:52 am
Xavier Smerdon



Why Don’t Aussies Volunteer?
Tuesday, 14th October 2014 at 9:52 am

A new Curtin University research project is examining why people choose not to volunteer and how Australia can build a sustainable volunteer sector.

The three-year study, led by Dr Kirsten Holmes from the School of Marketing at Curtin Business School in WA, will bring together researchers from Australia and abroad.

It will involve researchers at Macquarie University, Victoria University, Flinders University, Erasmus University (Netherlands) in conjunction with its partners Volunteering Victoria, Volunteering Western Australia, WA Department for Communities and Volunteering South Australia and Northern Territory.

Dr Holmes said the study called ‘Creating and Sustaining a Strong Future for Volunteering in Australia’ is starting with a blank canvas, with few studies to refer to globally, and none at all on why people do not volunteer in Australia.

“The project team will investigate ways in which the benefits of volunteering can be used to increase social participation levels,” Dr Holmes said.

“In Australia today, communities and Governments are increasingly dependent on volunteers to deliver a wide range of services, particularly for the aged, the sick and the infirm. However, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011, almost two thirds of the Australian population have not volunteered in the past 12 months.

“Some previous volunteer research has indicated that people do not volunteer because they don’t have the time however we know from other research that volunteers are extremely busy people who still the make time to volunteer. So there is a big gap in the research.

“We want to deliver beyond this and we are aware of data that suggests there are now more volunteers in Australia offering less time which is a problem for charities and Not for Profit who have to recruit and train more volunteers.

She said the researchers aim to create a new theory through three levels of analysis: volunteerability – the motives, values and availability of volunteers; organisational recruitability – looking at the programs, training and flexible roles available; and convertability – the likelihood of being recruited to volunteer.

“This innovative approach could help to identify, analyse and develop a tool to help organisations build Australia's civil society and develop policy that creates a sustainable volunteer sector into the future.

“What we want to do is identify those who aren’t available to volunteer now but are potential recruits for the future.”

In 2015 the researchers will carry out an online survey to identify the characteristics of volunteers and non-volunteers.

The project is receiving Federal Government funding through the Australian Research Council Linkage Project.

The School of International Studies at Flinders University is also offering a three-year PhD scholarship for full-time research on the project. The closing date for applications 31 October 2014.

The scholarship is open to students wishing to commence a PhD in 2015, and is valued at the APA rate of $25,500 per annum (tax free). The scholarship will be awarded for a maximum of three years.

All applicants are advised to contact Professor Melanie Oppenheimer

Melanie.oppenheimer@flinders.edu.au or +61 8 8201 2322 or project Lead Investigator A/P

Kirsten Holmes k.holmes@curtin.edu.au before submitting an application form.

Download the application form from: www.flinders.edu.au/scholarships-system/index.cfm/scholarships/display/aa227d2

Xavier Smerdon  |  Journalist  |  @XavierSmerdon

Xavier Smerdon is a journalist specialising in the Not for Profit sector. He writes breaking and investigative news articles.

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