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National Volunteer Week – 10 Surprising Facts

celebrate volunteeringAfter 25 years celebrating National Volunteer Week, Volunteering Australia is using this year’s event to kick off a national review to update the definition of volunteering.’

In 1996 Volunteering Australia identified a set of principles to describe volunteering. These principles still underpin volunteering policy for not for profits, business and government.

CEO of Volunteers Australia Brett Williamson said: “‘25 years ago volunteers expected to commit long-term and work in traditional organisations. Now volunteering opportunities have exploded with options like corporate volunteering, micro and episodic volunteering to meet the myriad of needs and opportunities now out there”.

“The 1996 definition has not really kept pace with emerging trends of how over 6.1 million Australians are volunteering their time today with over 600 000 not for profit organisations. “The definition of volunteering is a critical reference for the volunteering sector. It has a bearing on decision making by governments, volunteer resource centres and volunteer involving organisations. Not only does it enhance workforce planning, it underpins the integrity of volunteering and volunteers, ensuring a common understanding of what volunteering is. Much rests on it.’

‘It will also influence how companies manage employee volunteering programs, how organisations manager insurance needs for volunteers, how we measure volunteering and how we implement best practice standards across the sector.’

Mr Williamson said that Volunteering Tasmania will lead the review which is expected to completed by December 2014.

In the meantime, Volunteering Australia has published 10 Surprising Facts about Volunteering. They are:

1. Volunteers contribute $200 billion to the Australian economy annually

2. Volunteering produces health benefits such a happiness, health and longevity

3. The rate of volunteering by young people in Australia increased from 16% in 1995 to 27.1% in 2010

4. The number of volunteers in Australia has doubled from 1995 (3.2 million) to 2010 (6.1

5. The average number of hours contributed by each volunteer per year has decreased from 74 hours in 1995 to 56 hours in 2010

6. Of the 600 000 not for profit organisations in Australia only 60 000 have paid staff

7. 50% of volunteers are in employment

8. 44% of volunteers are engaged in short term volunteering roles

9. Volunteering is more common amongst those outside the capital cities, with a 38% participation rate for outside the capital cities vs. 32% in the cities

10. 35% of volunteers who became involved in volunteering in the last 10yrs were asked by

Check events celebrating National Volunteer Week in your area by going to and #NVW2014 on Twitter and Facebook

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Alana Lowes

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