4440.0.55.001 - Volunteers in Sport, Australia, 2010  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2012  Final
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Contents >> Background >> Data sources


The General Social Survey

The General Social Survey (GSS) was conducted in 2006 and 2010 to provide information about various aspects of volunteering and how these may relate to each other. More detail on volunteers and the nature of their voluntary work was collected in the 2006 survey compared with that collected in 2010. For example, in 2006 information was collected on the volunteering experience, such as length of time as a volunteer and the main reasons for being a volunteer.

Caution should be used when comparing data from the 2006 and 2010 GSS. The methodology used to collect information on the nature of voluntary work undertaken in the 2010 survey was slightly different to that used in 2006. In 2010, respondents were asked to provide, in aggregate, information about their voluntary work for all the organisations for which they had volunteered, whereas in the 2006 survey the corresponding information was collected separately for up to three organisations the volunteer had worked for. This difference does not affect volunteering rates and may only affect comparison with 2006 data on the types of organisations volunteered for, and frequency of voluntary work undertaken.

The voluntary work estimates for 2010 exclude those persons who were compelled to do voluntary work because of employment or study commitments, for example, work for the dole. They therefore differ from the time series voluntary work estimates presented in table 1 of ABS (2011a) General Social Survey: Summary Results, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4159.0) which, for time series comparison with 2002, do not exclude these populations and therefore have a higher rate of 'voluntary involvement' results. For more information about changes over time in volunteer estimation and methodology, see the Appendix in ABS (2007) Voluntary Work, Australia, 2006 (cat. no. 4441.0).

While the scope, content and data collection were largely the same in both collections, the sample design and weighting procedures were not. The sample sizes differed between the 2006 and 2010 GSS. In 2010, the number of fully or adequately responding households achieved in the survey was 15,028 compared with approximately 13,375 for the 2006 cycle. The 2010 cycle had a larger initial sample size (19,576 possible dwellings) compared with the 2006 initial sample size (17,700 possible dwellings). In addition, the 2006 GSS experienced higher rates of sample loss because there were more households with no residents in scope for the survey or where dwellings proved to be vacant, under construction or derelict, and a higher rate of survey non-response from eligible households. These differences in the sample size for 2010 and 2006 should be considered when comparing results.

For the 2010 cycle, a change in sample design was adopted to obtain more observations of people exhibiting multiple disadvantage, to provide a richer dataset of the characteristics of this subpopulation. The sample design involved using Census 2006 data to target areas with higher concentrations of households experiencing multiple disadvantage. To compensate for over sampling, the weighting process included additional benchmarks. These differences in the sample design for 2010 and 2006 should be considered when comparing results.

The full list of data items collected in the GSS are included in the ABS (2011b) General Social Survey: User Guide, Australia, 2010 (cat. no. 4159.0.55.002). A subset of these has been chosen for inclusion in this report and are listed in the Appendix.

A supplementary spreadsheet containing the information analysed for this report is available separately as a data spreadsheet as part of this publication. Note that all data in the tables and graphs presented in this report are from the General Social Survey 2010.

Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities

Information relating to volunteers for organised sport has also been collected previously in the Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities and published in ABS (2010) Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity (cat. no. 6285.0). This supplementary survey was last conducted throughout Australia in April 2010 as part of the Monthly Population Survey (MPS). The survey sought information on paid and unpaid involvement in organised sport and physical activities and the role(s) that are undertaken, such as coach, referee or club administrator. It did not specifically use the term 'volunteer', however, information on unpaid involvement can be used as a measure of voluntary work.

The results of the 2010 Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities indicate that 1.6 million or 9% of the population aged 15 years and over were involved in one or more non-playing roles associated with organised sport. It also found that the majority of these (1.3 million or 81%) were involved in an unpaid capacity.

3.1 Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity, By persons with non-playing involvement


Persons ('000)
Unpaid only
1 410.3
1 186.7
1 250.1
1 355.5
1 271.1
Some paid involvement
1 655.9
1 420.2
1 497.5
1 621.4
1 561.0
Participation rate

Source: Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity, Australia (cat. no. 6285.0).

The GSS and the Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities were conducted using different methodologies. The GSS collected information from persons aged 18 years and over whereas the Survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities collected information from persons aged 15 years and over.

These differences in methodology, the scope of the surveys, the definitions of volunteers and of sport and physical recreation organisations are such that the data from the different surveys cannot be compared. Consequently, this report includes information only from the 2010 GSS.

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