4159.0.55.005 - Information Paper: Collection of Volunteering data in the ABS, March 2018  
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In late 2016, the ABS and the Department of Social Services (DSS) met with representatives from the National Disability Insurance Agency, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of the Environment and Energy, the Department of Education and Training, the Department of Health, the Australian Sports Commission, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Communication and the Arts, the Attorney General’s Department, the Australian Tax Office, and the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission, to define current and emerging needs for volunteering data.

A range of policy relevant topics and research questions were identified during the discussion. Of particular note was the importance of ensuring that future data collections capture the changing nature of volunteering, which is increasingly being done in a more informal manner, is more cause based, more spontaneous and one-off, and often needs to fit around people's busy lifestyles. In summary, the agencies all agreed there is a continuing need to:

    • understand the evolving nature of volunteering and giving
    • understand the economic impact of volunteering and giving
    • understand the motivations for and barriers to volunteering and giving
    • improve data literacy and access to data
    • broaden the scope of volunteering data items to capture the changing nature of volunteering activity (ie. online volunteering, informal volunteering)
    • preserve time series

More detail of key issues identified by the federal agencies can be found in the Discussion Paper: Information needs for Volunteering data, April 2017 (cat. no. 4159.0.55.004).

In April 2017, the ABS launched a national consultation on statistics for volunteering and giving, inviting the public to submit proposals on the future collection of volunteering and giving data. The ABS wishes to thank the Australian public for their response: the consultation process has supported a review of the current methods and scope of collecting volunteering and giving data, and will continue to help the ABS prioritise content for future data collection.

Feedback from both the government and national consultation identified common topics of importance and data gaps across Australia, which were incorporated into a review of the current methods and scope of volunteering and giving data collection, and will assist the ABS in prioritising content for the future. See the Information Paper: Collection of Volunteering data, Summary of Submissions chapter (cat. no. 4159.0.55.005) for more detail.