Generations of giving

Volunteering makes our communities stronger and contributes to our social good, and women are at the forefront of the movement in 2018.

Lynne Montague Bramblewood Retirement Village RetireAustralia

The national peak body for volunteering, Volunteering Australia, states that 5.8 million Australians, or 31% of the population, regularly volunteer, compared to 29% in the UK and 25% in the US, contributing an estimated $290 billion to our economy.

Women dominate the statistics in Australia, being more likely to volunteer than men, with those over 65 contributing most.

Like many aspects of public life, women had to overcome barriers even to participate.

The two world wars were watershed moments for Australian women, as gender, class and misogynistic stereotypes were set aside in the nation’s fight for survival.

Women and girls everywhere volunteered, contributing to the war effort however they could.

Empowered by their experiences, many women became lifetime volunteers or returned to volunteering when their children became independent or after retiring, and their efforts have improved our communities in many ways.

Today, volunteer roles are as diverse as the women who fill them.

Bramblewood resident Lynne Montague volunteers in a florist’s shop at her local hospital, having previously helped out in the children’s ward and in a remedial reading program.

“I wanted to help somewhere that does good work,” she said.

“The shop raises a lot of money to do things that the government doesn’t pay for.”

Like many volunteers, Marie Bell of Boambee Gardens is modest about her contributions, despite earning a 15-year service award from Meals on Wheels.

“They had a beautiful medal presentation ceremony, but what I did is nothing spectacular,” she said.

National Volunteer Week runs from 21 to 27 May and is a chance to celebrate the wonderful efforts of volunteers nationwide.

There’s never been a better time to put women volunteers in their rightful place: front and centre.

Did you know…
– 99% of volunteers would continue to volunteer in the future
– 93% of volunteers saw positive change as a result of their efforts
– The majority of volunteers give their time at least once a week
– Average hours spent volunteering per person = 136 per year
– Common reasons to volunteer include helping others/the community, a personal belief in a cause or issue, to make a difference or to gain skills and experience.
– Volunteering helps to improve patience, teamwork, confidence and problem-solving abilities
– Sustained volunteering is associated with better mental health

Source: State of Volunteering in Australia, April 2016; Key facts and statistics about volunteering in Australia, April 2015.

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