4441.0 - Voluntary Work, Australia, 2000  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 20/06/2001   
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The age of persons on their last birthday.

Current reasons for being a volunteer

Current reasons for being a volunteer were recorded for each volunteer. These do not necessarily relate to any specific organisation or reference period.

Dependent children

All family members under 15 years of age and dependent students.

Dependent student

In couple or one parent families, sons or daughters aged 15-19 years attending school or aged 15-24 years attending a tertiary educational institution full-time, except those classified as husbands, wives or lone parents.


A voluntary transfer of funds made in the preceding 12 months by a person, on an individual not a business basis. The donor should not have received any benefit in return. Excludes purchases of goods and raffle tickets but includes door-knocks and sponsoring walkathons etc.

Donation rate

For any group, the donation rate is the number of people in that group who made donations expressed as a percentage of the total population in the same group.


Volunteers were asked for any expenses related to their voluntary work in the last 12 months. They were also asked whether reimbursement was available for expenses they had, irrespective of whether the volunteer chose to accept this reimbursement or not. Reimbursement could be either full or partial.

How first became involved in voluntary work

This item relates to the practical means by which the respondent first became involved in voluntary work, as opposed to their motivation. It was only collected for those who first became involved in voluntary work 10 years ago or less.

Length of time since first volunteered

This item refers to the length of time since the respondent first commenced voluntary work of any kind for any organisation, even a one-off activity such as participating in a door-knock. Voluntary work done overseas is excluded.

Median hours of voluntary work

For any group of volunteers, the median hours of voluntary work is the number of hours such that half the volunteers in the group worked less than that number, and half worked more than that number.


Metropolitan refers to the capital city statistical divisions and all of the Australian Capital Territory. Ex-metropolitan is the balance of the State/Territory.

Organisation or group

An organisation or group is any body with a formal structure. It may be as large as a national charity or as small as a local book club. Purely ad hoc, informal and temporary gatherings of people do not constitute an organisation.

Type of organisation

Each organisation or group for which a volunteer worked, up to a maximum of three organisations, was coded to one of the categories below. When a volunteer worked for more than three organisations in the preceding 12 months, the type of organisation was collected only for the three organisations for which the volunteer worked the most hours. The volunteer may have worked for more than one organisation of the same type and therefore may be counted up to three times in the same type of organisation.

Some categories include multiple descriptions (eg Law/justice/political). However, an organisation did not need to fall into all of these descriptions to be coded to the corresponding category. If an organisation fell into more than one category, it was coded according to the primary focus of the organisation.

If the organisation was a subsidiary of a larger body, the organisational group was based on the subsidiary group, not the umbrella organisation. Subsidiary organisations have their own management committee and exist as a separate organisation or entity. For example, a church netball club is a separate entity from the church.
The categories are:

  • Arts/culture

This category refers to the production of the arts ie providing a service for others. Examples of arts/culture organisations include libraries, museums and galleries, historical associations, festivals. Small hobby and interest groups associated with craft, art and literature would be included under recreation, as they are primarily for the enjoyment/consumption of members and not for providing a service.
  • Business/professional/union

Organisations promoting, regulating and safeguarding business, professional and labour interests, including industry standards.
  • Community/welfare

Organisations and institutions providing human and social services to the general community and specific target population groups. Included are organisations whose work is for the wider social benefit of the general community without the provision of direct services, such as Apex and Rotary. Other organisations included cover those giving material assistance, personal care and advice, such as Lifeline, the Smith Family, Brotherhood of St. Lawrence, Legacy, Royal Blind Societies, Wesley Mission, Meals on Wheels. Further examples include ethnic welfare groups, marriage guidance, information and referral services, community transport, neighbourhood centres, accommodation referral and advice, homes and shelters.
  • Education/training/youth development

Organisations and activities administering, providing, promoting, conducting, supporting and servicing education, training and youth development.
  • Emergency services

Refers to those emergency services involved in search and rescue and disaster relief (not including emergency medical services). While emergency rescue may involve medical attention the overall aim is search and rescue. Similarly, while disaster relief can include a range of services (material assistance, accommodation, counselling), the broad focus of the organisation is disaster relief. Included are Red Cross Disaster Recovery Services and Salvation Army Disaster Services. First aid is included under health, not emergency services.
  • Environmental/animal welfare

Organisations promoting and providing services in environmental conservation, pollution control and prevention, environmental education, and health and animal protection.
  • Foreign/international

This refers to the focus of the organisation's activity rather than its origins. Such an organisation promotes greater inter-cultural understanding between people of different countries and historical backgrounds, may provide relief during emergencies, or promote development and welfare abroad eg exchange/friendship/cultural programs, development assistance associations, international disaster and relief organisations, international human rights and peace organisations.
  • Health

Organisations engaged in health related activities providing health care, both general and specialised services, medical research foundations and emergency health services, administration of health care services and health support services. Examples include specific health conditions support groups, hospitals and nursing homes, regional health services, Alcoholics Anonymous, eating disorder groups, Family Planning Associations, Royal Flying Doctor Services.
  • Law/justice/political

Organisations and groups that work to protect and promote civil and other rights, or advocate the social and political interests of general or special constituencies, offer legal services and promote public safety (related to the law rather than emergency services). For example, Australian Consumers Association, the Civil Justice Research Centre, peak organisations and lobby groups such as Councils of Social Service and Ethnic Communities Council.
  • Religious

Organisations promoting religious beliefs as their primary focus, administering religious services and rituals. Includes churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, shrines, seminaries, monasteries and religious institutions.
  • Sport/recreation

Organisations in general and specialised fields of sport, recreation and leisure; sports clubs and facilities; indoor and outdoor recreational facilities; racing and gambling; social, leisure and hobby clubs; zoological, botanical, recreational parks and gardens; theme and amusement parks. Included are hobby and general interest groups such as bird watchers’ groups, book clubs, embroiderers’ guilds, gardening clubs etc.
  • Other

Organisations not elsewhere classified. In some tables and graphs, some of the above organisational groups may also have been included in this category due to small numbers of responses. This is indicated by a footnote.

Type of voluntary activity

Activities performed in the preceding 12 months were collected for each organisation for which a volunteer worked, up to a maximum of three organisations. Volunteers may have performed multiple activities for each organisation. When a volunteer worked for more than three organisations in the preceding 12 months, activity information was only collected for the three organisations for which the volunteer worked the most hours. The categories are:
  • Administration/clerical work/recruitment

Office work, typing and word processing, answering phones, filing, basic bookkeeping. Includes conducting campaigns for recruiting volunteers. Recruiting volunteers for a fundraising program was coded under this category rather than fundraising.
  • Befriending/supportive listening/counselling

Includes providing companionship, staffing help lines.
  • Coaching/judging/refereeing

Includes training sports teams, adjudicating competitions for agricultural or wine shows, public speaking contests, umpiring sporting contests.
  • Fundraising/sales

Includes a range of activities directed predominantly towards assisting organisations to raise money for their own programs or for those of another organisation. Examples include: door knocking, selling buttons on button day, making or selling items on a stall or in a charity shop.
  • Management/committee work

Participation in management committees and functions, which involves making decisions about the direction and operation of an organisation. Examples include: sitting on a board, being an office bearer, being a member of the management board of a community welfare organisation, treasurer for the local church, managing a service or program, program planning.
  • Performing/media production

Includes producing newsletters, pamphlets and other printed material.
  • Personal care/assistance

Includes a wide range of activities such as: providing help with showering/bathing, dressing, eating, using the toilet and health care activities such as helping to administer medication, or dressing wounds.
  • Preparing/serving food

Includes food and drink preparation, serving meals and cleaning up. Work for Meals on Wheels was usually coded to both preparing/serving food and transporting people/goods.
  • Repairing/maintenance/gardening

Includes a wide range of activities such as: repairing household appliances, painting, making furnishings, checking the state of repair of the dwelling, providing help with lawns, clearing up grounds, rubbish removal, cleaning out garages, gutters.
  • Teaching/instruction

Includes classroom assistance given by people other than qualified teachers eg parents.
  • Transporting people/goods

See Preparing/serving food.
  • Other

Activities not classified elsewhere. In some tables and graphs, some of the above activities may also have been included in this category due to small numbers of responses. This is indicated by a footnote.


For the purposes of this survey, a volunteer is someone who willingly gave unpaid help, in the form of time, service or skills, through an organisation or group. The reference period was the 12 months prior to the survey.

People who did voluntary work overseas, or whose only voluntary work was for the Sydney 2000 Olympic or Paralympic Games have been excluded from the survey estimates.

The reimbursement of expenses in full or part (eg token payments) or small gifts (eg sports club T-shirts or caps) was not regarded as payment of salary, and people who received these were still included as voluntary workers. However, people who received payment in kind for the work they did (eg receiving farm produce as payment for work done on a farm, rather than cash) were not included as volunteers.

Volunteer activity rate

For any group, the aggregate number of activities performed for organisations by that group expressed as a percentage of total volunteers in that group.

Volunteer involvements

For each volunteer, the number of organisations worked for.

Volunteer involvement rate

For any group, the aggregate number of organisations worked for by that group expressed as a percentage of total volunteers in that group.

Volunteer rate

For any group, the volunteer rate is the number of volunteers in that group expressed as a percentage of the total population in the same group.