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Strong family life and involvement with the wider community are important for the functioning of any society. Participation in social activities and voluntary work, availability of community support, and the presence of stressors can provide some insight into the resilience of Queensland communities.
Younger and Older Persons
Young adults were more likely to get support from friends in a time of crisis (81%) than older persons (43%). Neighbours were a strong source of support for older persons (39%), while the incidence of younger persons seeking support from neighbours was considerably lower (16%).
The overall pattern on sources of support were the same for both genders in the Brisbane and regional areas. A slightly lower proportion of persons from regional areas reported family members as a source of help in time of crisis, possibly due to the likelihood of not having family within close range. Conversely neighbours were reported as a more likely source of support for these persons.
Queensland women were more likely to seek support than men. A comparison of various support organisations indicated that 18% of women sought support from Community, charity or religious organisations, 13% from Health, legal or financial professionals and 7% from Local council or other government service providers. The comparative figures for men were 11%, 9% and 4% respectively.
The proportion of Queensland adults (95%) who indicated that they could get support was slightly higher than the national average (94%), with other states and territories ranging from 97% of adults in the Australian Capital Territory, down to 93% in both New South Wales and Victoria.
Voluntary work is an important contribution to the social fabric of Queensland. It meets needs within the community and helps to develop and reinforce social networks and cohesion. Many people provide support to the wider community by voluntary work through organisations. The 2000 Survey of Voluntary Work showed the rate of volunteering in Queensland to have noticeably increased, from one quarter (26%) of all adults aged 18 years and over in 1995 to one third (31%) in 2000. footnote 1
In the 2002 General Social Survey, 36% (965,000) of Queensland adults reported undertaking some form of voluntary work in the previous 12 months, marginally higher than the national average (34%).
Organisations involved in Sport, recreation or hobbies, and Welfare or community services attracted most support with 12% of all adults volunteering. Men were more likely to have volunteered for sport and recreation groups (14%) as opposed to women who had a higher proportion indicating welfare and community groups (13%). Women also indicated a higher propensity to volunteer in all other types of organisations except for emergency services.
The rate of volunteering differed slightly between the sexes (34% for males and 38% for females), with greater differences exhibited with age, life cycle and location. People aged 35 to 44 years reported the highest rate of volunteering (44%). At these ages, people are more likely to be married with children and their higher than average volunteer rate reflects their commitments to family related activities. This is most marked for women.
Volunteer rates were slightly lower in the Brisbane region (33%) than inner regional and other areas of the state, 37% and 40% respectively.
Volunteer Rate by Age and Sex, Queensland
Adults in couple families with dependent children present (45%) were more likely to have undertaken voluntary work in the previous 12 months than persons in other household types. Their participation rates were higher than both those for total Queensland adults (36%) and total Australian adults (42%). Sport/recreation/hobby and education organisations attracted volunteers, with many parents most likely volunteering around activities in which their children were involved.
The participation rates for voluntary work in sport/recreation/hobby organisations increased progressively across each income distribution quintile from lowest (5%) to highest (18%). For welfare/community organisations the reverse pattern occurred, declining from 14% for the lowest income quintile to 9% for the highest quintile.
Younger and Older Persons
The participation rates for Australian younger persons (aged 18 to 24 years) undertaking some form of voluntary work has increased, from 17% in 1995 to 27% in 2000.(footnote 2) In 2002, 33% of Queensland young persons aged 18 to 24 years reported having undertaken some voluntary work during the previous 12 months, compared with 28% recorded for that age group nationally. Volunteer rates for young people were highest for sport/recreation/hobby (11%) and welfare/community organisations (8%).
In the group, persons aged 65 years or over, 27% had performed some voluntary work during the previous 12 months, with welfare/community organisations (13%), and religious organisations (8%) being the main beneficiaries. The proportion of older persons undertaking voluntary work had also increased over time, up from 21% in 1995. (footnote 1) Older adults were notably less likely than young adults to volunteer in education/training/youth development organisations, but slightly more likely to work voluntarily in welfare/community and health organisations.
Voluntary Work by Type of Organisation, Selected Age Groups, Queensland
The proportion of Queensland adults (36%) that indicated having undertaken voluntary work in the previous 12 months was higher than the national average (34%). New South Wales and Victoria had the lowest proportions who volunteered (33%), while the Australian Capital Territory had the highest (41%).
Involvement in social activities plays a role in personal interaction, and while particular activities are somewhat restrictive by cost, the majority can be undertaken by virtually any member of the community. Participation rates for involvement in social activities generally decline with age, depending on the social activity in question. Going to a cafe, restaurant or bar was the most popular social activity for Queensland adults, with 82% eating/drinking outside the home in the previous three months. This was followed by attending movies, the theatre or concerts (60%) and taking part in or attending sport or physical activities (58%). Only a small proportion of Queensland adults (6%) indicated they had not participated in any social activity in the previous three months.
Younger and Older Persons
In Queensland, young adults were the most likely age group to have participated in a social activity in the last three months, with older people (aged 65 years or over) the least likely. The most commonly reported social activity for both groups was visiting a cafe, restaurant or bar (89% and 68% respectively). Young adults were more than twice as likely as older persons to have attended movies, theatre or concert, or to have taken part in or attended sport or physical activities in the previous three months. One in seven older Queenslanders (14%) indicated not having participated in any social activity during the reference period.
Social Activities, Young Adults and Older Persons, Queensland
(footnote 1) Voluntary Work, State Tables, Queensland (cat. no. 4441.0.55.001).
(footnote 2) Voluntary Work, Australia, 2000 (cat. no. 4441.0).
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