4125.0 - Gender Indicators, Australia, Jul 2012  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/07/2012   
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VOLUNTEERING RATE (a),18 years and over




(a) Males and females who volunteered as a proportion (%) of total population aged 18 years and over for each sex (volunteers/ non-volunteers combined).

Source: ABS Voluntary Work, Australia (cat. no. 4441.0).



In 2010, 38% of women aged 18 years and over were volunteers compared to 34% of men.

Volunteers make a valuable contribution to society in both economic and social terms. Volunteers provide services which would otherwise have to be paid for or left undone, allowing organisations to allocate their often limited finances elsewhere. The value of the work contributed by volunteers to non-profit institutions in 2006-07 was estimated to be $14.6 billion. (Endnote 1)

Willingly giving time to do work for an organisation or community group on an unpaid basis can be rewarding for individuals, and it can extend and enhance their social networks. For example, volunteering may be the basis of relationships between community members who do not normally associate with one another. (Endnote 2)

Volunteering by age

The pattern of volunteering for males and females varies with age. In 2010, there were higher proportions of females than males across most age groups who volunteered, except in the 55-64 year age group and 65-74 year age group.

Of all adult females, those aged 35-44 years and 45-54 years in 2010 were more likely to volunteer (45% and 48% respectively) compared to females in other age groups. This age group of females includes a large number of mothers with dependent children, and so the volunteering rate of this group partly reflects their family commitments. (Endnote 3) Since 2006, the rate for females aged 45-54 years has increased by 9 percentage points but has decreased slightly for females aged 35-44 years, down 4 percentage points.

Males aged 55-64 years in 2010 were more likely than other males to volunteer (46%). Since 2006, the volunteer rate for males aged 55-64 years has increased by 19 percent. This increase may be due to a number of factors. It may in part reflect an increased availability for males who are entering retirement to undertake voluntary work. It may also reflect an increase in the age of fathers over the past 20 years, (Endnote 4) where males in this age group may be more involved in voluntary work associated with their children, such as volunteering for children's sport activities. (Endnote 5)

Volunteering by labour force status

Employed males and females had a higher volunteering rate than those who were unemployed or not in labour force. Males employed full-time were as likely to volunteer (39%) as females employed on the same basis (37%). Of those employed part-time, higher proportions of females (49%) had volunteered than males employed part-time (32%). Overall, there was a higher proportion of females who worked part-time, and among them there was a higher proportion who were doing voluntary work, indicating that many may have chosen part-time participation in the labour force to make other activities possible. (Endnote 3)

Unemployed males and females in 2010 had the lowest volunteering rates (15% and 24% respectively).

For males and females not in the labour force in 2010, volunteering rates were similar (28% for males and 33% for females). This similarity was reflected in those not in the labour force due to retirement (28% and 33% respectively) and those who were not in the labour force for other reasons (25% and 32%).

Type of volunteering activity

In 2006, volunteers performed a range of different activities when undertaking voluntary work. Both male and female volunteers reported fundraising/sales most frequently as part of their voluntary work (51% of males and 58% of females).

Some of the activities undertaken by male and female volunteers fitted traditional stereotypes. For example, in 2006 female volunteers reported 'preparing and serving food' as a volunteering activity more frequently (48%) than did males (28%), whereas males were more likely to be involved in 'repairing/maintenance/gardening' activities (38%) than were females (14%). Males were also likely to be more involved in coaching/refereeing/judging as a volunteering activity (35%) than were females (17%).


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2009, Australian National Accounts: Non-Profit Institutions Satellite Account, 2006-07, (cat. no. 5256.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
2. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008, Australian Social Trends, Sep 2008, (cat. no. 4102.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
3. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007, Voluntary Work, Australia, 2006, (cat. no. 4441.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
4. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Births, Australia, 2009, (cat. no. 3301.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.
5. Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2011, Sports and Physical Recreation: A Statistical Overview, Australia, 2011, (cat. no. 4156.0) <www.abs.gov.au>.


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