In 2014, there were 5.8 million people in Australia (31 per cent) who had volunteered in the previous 12 months, according to statistics released this week by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Women are more likely to participate in voluntary work than men (34 per cent and 29 per cent, respectively).
Allan McLean from the ABS, said the results from the General Social Survey present important information about volunteers in our community.
“The highest rates of volunteering were for young people aged 15-17 years (42 per cent), those aged 35-44 years (39 per cent) and older people aged 65-74 years (35 per cent),” said Mr Mclean.
The most common type of organisations that people volunteer for are sport and physical recreation organisations (31 per cent).
Couples with children are more likely to have volunteered in the last 12 months (38 per cent) than couples without children (29 per cent) or people living alone (25 per cent).
"Volunteers not only make a huge contribution to the lives of the people in our community, they are also essential to connecting people and building social connections through a greater sense of belonging," said Mr McLean.
Nearly half of the volunteers have volunteered for more than 10 years and more than two-thirds of volunteers report that at least one of their parents had also participated in voluntary work.
The most commonly reported reasons for volunteering are to help others or the community (64 per cent), for personal satisfaction (57 per cent) or to do something worthwhile (54 per cent).
“We have found volunteers contribute 743 million hours to the community across diverse activities,” said Mr McLean.
“This equates to an average of 128 hours per volunteer in the last 12 months.
“Almost 20 per cent of volunteers performed more than 200 hours of volunteering throughout the year.”
Further information can be found in General Social Survey, 2014 (cat. no 4159.0), available for free download from the ABS website http://www.abs.gov.au.
- A volunteer is someone who is over the age of 15 and, in the previous 12 months, willingly gave unpaid help, in the form of time, service or skills, through an organisation or group.
- Voluntary work excludes employment or study commitments, for example, work experience, student placements or Community Work under Mutual Obligation in the last 12 months through an organisation.
- Reported reasons for volunteering are multiple choice, therefore percentages do not add to 100 per cent.
- When reporting ABS data, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) must be attributed as the source.