Australia has faced an array of challenges over the last few years, from natural disasters to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Remaining a constant source of stability through these difficult times, volunteers are now more important than ever. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, volunteers are vital in supporting our communities and helping those who are struggling in the challenging economic climate.

 Volunteering takes many forms, from fighting bushfires and supporting healthcare to simply bringing a smile to someone’s face. Volunteers are an integral part of Australian society, and it is estimated that over five million people volunteer through an organisation annually, while an additional 6.5 million provide informal volunteering support within their community.

A new report from Volunteering Australia featuring the latest volunteering data reveals key insights into the motivations and types of volunteering undertaken in Australia. The most encouraging finding is that, as pandemic restrictions have lifted, over two-thirds (69%) of volunteers are now back in person as change makers in their organisations.

The lockdown experience taught us the necessity of connection to others. In fact, seeking social contact was the most influential motivation to volunteer in emergency services (53%), arts and heritage (49%), and aged care (45%) organisations. The data also reveals that for almost three-quarters (72%) of volunteers, personal satisfaction, and the desire to do something worthwhile are primary motivations. Helping others and the community is also a significant motivator, with 61% of volunteers indicating this as a driving factor.

Looking ahead, the new National Strategy for Volunteering (2023-2033) presents our collective vision for a future where volunteering is at the heart of Australian communities. The new data suggests this vision will be realised through celebrating all the different reasons why people volunteer and what motivates them to be change makers in their communities.  

National Volunteer Week (15th – 21st May) is Australia’s largest annual celebration of volunteering. Recognising there is always more work to be done, Volunteering Australia is inviting all Australians to become a Change Maker by volunteering or simply helping increase awareness of the vital role volunteers play in our lives this National Volunteer Week.