2900.0 - Census of Population and Housing: Understanding the Census and Census Data, Australia , 2016  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/11/2017  First Issue
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Voluntary Work for an Organisation or Group (VOLWP)

This variable records people who spent time doing unpaid voluntary work through an organisation or group, in the twelve months prior to Census night. It excludes work done as part of paid employment, in a family business, and if the main reason for the work was to qualify for Government benefit. It is applicable to all persons aged 15 years or older.

How this variable is created

The responses to this question are captured automatically from mark box responses on the form so the risk of processing error is minimal. In 0.7% of preprocessed data, respondents provided an incorrect combination of responses. This occurred when both the 'No' and 'Yes' responses were marked. In these cases the 'Yes' response is retained and the 'No' response rejected.

Variable history

Questions on unpaid work, including voluntary work for an organisation or group, were first asked for the 2006 Census. These questions were repeated for 2011 and 2016. No changes were made for 2016.

Non-response rate

Item non-response rates are a measure of how many people did not respond to a particular question as a proportion of the total number of people the question was applicable to. In this instance the response is left as not stated.

The majority of item non-response is attributable to the people who did not respond to the Census at all. Refer to item non-response rates for more information. The second and smaller contributor to item non-response is when people return a Census form but may not answer a particular question(s). For more information, refer to Understanding Census data quality.

The non-response rate for this variable was 8.2% (8.2% in 2011).

Data usage notes

This question refers to voluntary work undertaken in the twelve months prior to the Census to include those people who may do voluntary work on an irregular basis as well as those who do it more regularly. However, no information on the amount of time spent on this type of unpaid work was collected. Further to the instructions in the question respondents were directed to include help willingly given in the form of time, service or skills to a club, organisation or association. Unpaid voluntary work can include assisting at organised events and with sports organisations; helping with organised school events and activities; assisting in churches, hospitals, nursing homes and charities; and other kinds of volunteer work (e.g. emergency services, serving on a committee for a club, etc.).

Care should be taken when comparing Census data on Voluntary Work with information from other surveys and publications. Definitions can differ between different statistical collections and may therefore not be comparable.

Further information

A definition of Voluntary Work for an Organisation or Group is available in the 2016 Census Dictionary.
For more information about Unpaid work, see the Glossary for Unpaid Work in the 2016 Census Dictionary.

Household form question image

Question 51 as it appeared on the 2016 Census Household Paper Form:

Image: 2016 Household Paper Form - Question 51. In the last twelve months did the person spend time doing voluntary work through an organisation or group?
A text only version of the online Census Household form is available from the Downloads tab.