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Australian volunteering over 20 years: A timeline


11 June 2020 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
Volunteering in Australia has shifted immensely over the past two decades. We take a look back through the Pro Bono News archives to re-examine some of the major moments that have defined the sector. 


Luke Michael | 11 June 2020 at 8:00 am


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Australian volunteering over 20 years: A timeline
11 June 2020 at 8:00 am

Volunteering in Australia has shifted immensely over the past two decades. We take a look back through the Pro Bono News archives to re-examine some of the major moments that have defined the sector. 

From 2000 to now: The key events of Australia’s volunteering sector

Jul,2001

An ABS Survey of Volunteer Work uncovers major growth in Australia’s volunteering rates.

It finds that the number of Australian adults volunteering grew from 3.1 million in 1995 to 4.4 million in 2000.

Feb,2005

Victorian premier Steve Bracks says the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne offers a “springboard” opportunity for volunteering.

His comments come at the launch of the volunteer recruitment drive for the Commonwealth Games, where up to 15,000 volunteers will be needed.

Oct,2005

The Giving Australia report is released.

It finds the number of hours donated by volunteers has risen 16 per cent since 2000, with 41 per cent of adult Australians volunteering 836 million hours.

Dec,2006

Findings from the Costs of Volunteering Survey are released.

This Volunteering Australia report finds that more than 80 per cent of volunteers believe that increasing out-of-pocket expenses, in particular the cost of petrol, are making it more difficult for people to volunteer.

May,2007

Volunteering Australia loses its most senior executives.

On the eve of National Volunteer Week, long-time CEO Sha Cordingley and deputy CEO Kylee Bates resign. The timing of the separate resignations is described as “unfortunately coincidental”.

Apr,2008

The Rudd government predicts a “golden age” of volunteering in Australia by 2020.

Senator Ursula Stephens says this not only requires the political will to make it happen, but also depends on organisations contributing to an inclusive and sustainable Australia.

Mar,2009

Volunteers rush to register in bushfire crisis.

More than 17,000 people rush to register as volunteers to help in the recovery process after the Victorian bushfire crisis.

Oct,2010

Volunteering placed at the centre of the Gillard government policy agenda.

Senator Ursula Stephens tells National Volunteering Australia Conference attendees that volunteering has now been placed within the social policy framework of government.

Feb,2011

International Year of Volunteers Plus 10 launches.

The UN declares 2011 the International Year of Volunteers Plus 10 (IYV+10), reprising the original International Year of Volunteers celebrated in 2001.

Jul,2015

Volunteering Australia unveils a new national definition of volunteering.

The new definition states that: “volunteering is time willingly given for the common good without financial gain”.

Dec,2016

Research shows volunteers are more generous with their dollars as well as with their time.

The Giving Australia 2016 project reveals that people who volunteered in the 12 months prior to September 2016 gave nearly double the amount of money that non-volunteers donated.

Apr,2020

Experts say that the coronavirus pandemic may reshape volunteering in Australia.

Sector leaders believe charities are really starting to understand the value of virtual volunteering as social distancing measures take hold. 

For a deeper look at these key changes, you can check out our article examining how far the volunteering sector has come since 2000 here.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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