The number of volunteers in the community is a measure of community engagement and social connectedness. The volunteer rate is influenced by age, gender and the current social climate. Although difficult to measure, there is a strong interest among economic analysts in the value of unpaid work because of its significance and because of linkages between unpaid work and the market sector of the economy (ABS 2002).
As well as the economic value of the services volunteers provide, there is much interest in the role volunteers have in building social networks and increasing social cohesion (ABS 2002). A survey conducted by the ABS in 2006 showed that almost two-thirds of those who first became involved in voluntary work in the last 10 years were either asked to volunteer by someone or did so because they know someone involved. This suggests that volunteering not only builds social networks, but grows out of them.
People volunteer for a variety of reasons which provide benefits not only to the community, but also to the volunteers themselves. When asked to give all reasons why they volunteer, a majority (57%) said they were involved to help others or the community, but 44% were involved for personal satisfaction and 36% to do something worthwhile (this last reason being particularly important to older volunteers).
People who Help out as Volunteers: expressed as a percentage of the adult population.
In 2008, the response categories "Yes, definitely" and "Sometimes" have been aggregated to derive the measure.
Do you help out as a volunteer?
2008 response categories - Yes, definitely; Sometimes; No, not at all