Volunteering in Australia in decline, report finds

Volunteering in Australia is in decline, according to a new report.

Volunteering in Australia is in decline, according to a new report.

New data released today by Volunteering Australia confirms that volunteering rates in NSW and across Australia are under pressure and in decline.

In line with the recent ABS data signifying a 5 per cent decline in volunteering over the past 5 years, the State of Volunteering in Australia report indicates that volunteers are feeling the pressure, that they are time poor and that barriers to volunteering need to be removed.

The report says that organisations ‘need to better align volunteering opportunities with the interests of prospective volunteers.’

The report analyses the findings from a national survey of 2,304 volunteers, volunteer involving organisations and, for the first time, corporations.

The Centre for Volunteering CEO Gemma Rygate said volunteering was a crucial factor in building healthy communities so any barrier to community participation was concerning.

‘Australians are still keen volunteers with 5.8 million Australians (or 31 per cent) volunteering in the past 12 months,’ Ms Rygate said

‘Alarmingly though, the report shows that Australians are facing greater barriers to volunteering than in the past.’

Current volunteers are loyal to the cause, with 99 per cent of volunteers surveyed likely to continue volunteering in the future and, in NSW in particular, 48 per cent of those surveyed have been involved for 5 years or more.

Some 33 per cent of volunteers surveyed in NSW are aged 65+ and only 15 per cent were aged less than 34 suggesting potential issues for recruitment into the future.

‘This raises questions about whether our social capital is being eroded, and what can be done given volunteers contribute $16billion to our economy each year.’

Ms Rygate said it’s important to highlight that modern volunteering need not be time-consuming, including online and one-off volunteering.

‘It’s about finding the right fit for your life and volunteer matching organisations like The Centre for Volunteering provide that service,’ she said.

  • The report provides perspectives from both volunteers and volunteer involving organisations about the barriers to entry, notably that:
  • there is a disconnect between the volunteering roles that people are interested in and the roles that organisations are offering
  •   volunteers are deterred from volunteering because of lack of flexibility, personal expenses incurred, lack of reimbursement for out of pocket expenses, and burdensome administrative requirements
  • volunteer involving organisations (VIOs) generally lack resources, both human and financial, inhibiting their ability to engage volunteers with barriers (e.g. people with a disability, people with language barriers). Lack of resources may also reduce an organisation’s capability for reward and recognition of their existing volunteer base.


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