Today’s volunteers are increasingly in better health, with a better income and more interested in the community aspect than making friends.
- 41 per cent of all Australian adults undertake volunteer work each year
- More Australians aged 35-44 volunteer - youngest and oldest contribute most
- Single parents and people in positions of responsibility are more likely to volunteer
- Almost half of all part time workers do volunteer work
The three most prominent reasons for volunteering were ‘to put my spare time to good use’ (53 per cent), ‘to improve the lives of older people’ (42 per cent) and because ‘someone asked me’ (40 per cent).
More than a quarter had volunteered for nine or more years and most of these longstanding volunteers were women.
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Getting involved helps maintain essential work skills like teamwork, communication and discipline. Volunteering can also give people access to work experience and training opportunities in employment-related areas like administrative skills, safety and first aid.
Other advantages of volunteering: builds self confidence, feel useful, meet new challenges, support a cause, be a role model, re-enter society, meet new people, give back and help others.
It’s also beneficial for businesses, as it’s good for staff morale and employees learn about other people.
The volunteers come from all walks of life. Two thirds of the volunteers reported that they owned their own home with one-fifth having a spouse and a quarter with an adult child living at home.
Thirty-six per cent of the men and 40 per cent of the women lived alone so had more time for volunteering and a need for company.
Seniors form a large part of this voluntary force and demonstrate that older citizens can provide, as well as receive, voluntary services.
Volunteers should be conscientious, punctual, undertake what they agreed to do, be reliable and let the co-ordinator know if they are unable to work.
They should also maintain confidentiality, be a team member and know their own limitations relating to time available, finances, physical ability and family.
Just over half the volunteers reported difficulties with juggling volunteering with the family commitments, health problems, work or study commitments.
Volunteering hubs provide referral services and support to non-profit organisations.