Giving back to the community: volunteering in Australia

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Volunteering is an excellent way to contribute to a cause and really make a difference on a local, national or global level. It is estimated that more than 6 million Australians over the age of 18 donated their time and effort to a volunteer initiative in 2010i.

People in Australia spend six minutes per day volunteering, which is higher than the OECD average of four minutes per day.

Whether it's in the area of sport and recreation, community and welfare, religion or family/youth organisations, Australians love to get involved in all types of volunteer workii. The most common type of work undertaken by volunteers is administrative work, followed by fundraising, social support and teaching making up a large part of the volunteer sectoriii.

So why do over 6 million Australians volunteer each year? The reasons vary from person to person, although many people enjoy volunteering because they feel it makes a difference to the community, or provides them with a sense of purpose and an opportunity for personal growthiv. Some value their volunteer work for the opportunity to gain new skills or use their current set, while others enjoy it because it gives them a chance to meet new people and engage with the communityv.

Volunteering can be an ongoing commitment or a one-off event like participating in Clean Up Australia Day.

Volunteering is a two-way exchange. The more you give the more you get; skills, experience, friends, or the feeling of knowing your contribution has made a positive difference to the community are just a few of the rewards that volunteering offers. This is why, according to the OECD Better Life Index, in general, people who volunteer tend to be more satisfied with their lives than those who do notvi. Whether it's spending time coaching a local soccer team, tutoring kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, planting trees in the local community reserve or fundraising for cancer research - your efforts have far-reaching consequences that help transform Australia in a positive way.

To get involved in helping your community, decide on what type of work you'd like to do and how much time you're able to commit. Volunteering can be a one-time event like raising funds through a bake sale, or an ongoing commitment - lending a hand at the local library once a week, for example. To find out about volunteer opportunities in your local area, contact the relevant volunteer co-ordination organisation in your state or territoryvii.


New South Wales
Centre for Volunteering
Call 02 9261 3600 or email

Australian Capital Territory
Volunteering ACT
Call 02 6251 4060 or email

Volunteering Victoria
Call 03 8327 8500 or email

Volunteering Tasmania Inc.
Call 03 6231 5550 or email

Volunteering Queensland
Call 07 3002 7600 or email

Western Australia
Volunteering WA
Call 08 9482 4333 or email

South Australia and Northern Territory
Volunteering SA and NT
Call 08 8221 7177 or email

iAustralian Bureau of Statistics 2011, 4441.0 Voluntary Work Australia 2010, page 3, viewed 28 November 2014,$File/44410_2010.pdf

iiVolunteering Australia, Volunteering Facts, viewed 28 November 2014,

iiiVolunteering Australia, 2011 National Survey of Volunteer Issues, page 8, viewed 28 November 2014,

ivVolunteering Australia, 2011 National Survey of Volunteer Issues, page 5, viewed 28 November 2014,

vGo Volunteer, About Volunteering, viewed 28 November 2014,

viOECD Better Life Index, Australia: Community, viewed 28 November 2014,

viiVolunteering Australia, State/Territory Peak Bodies, viewed 3 September 2014,