The Westender is one of many local organisations that exists because of the generosity of volunteers.

Yesterday Volunteering Queensland and Minister for Communities Leeanne Enoch, launched the first State of Volunteering in Queensland 2021 Report. The report was based on feedback from a population survey as well as a survey of volunteer organisations. It found that a staggering 3 million people (over 75 per cent of the population) volunteered 900 million hours in 2020, a year that was challenging for all.

“Volunteers are the backbone of our communities and this report highlights just how eager Queenslanders are to help others, even if it’s during the height of a global pandemic,” Minister Enoch said.

Volunteering Queensland CEO Mara Basanovic said while it was always believed that the majority of Queenslanders volunteered in some way, the State of Volunteering report now has the evidence to back that up.

The COVID pandemic has increased our reliance on volunteers with growing numbers of people experiencing additional needs. The pandemic has also changed the way people volunteer, with a shift to people volunteering from home or very locally.

“In 2020, volunteering is estimated to have been worth $84 billion in Queensland, which is incredible when you consider how COVID-19 significantly disrupted traditional volunteering roles,” Minister Enoch said.

“Over 28,500 volunteers put their hands up to be part of the Palaszczuk Government’s Care Army, and we have provided $250,000 to Volunteering Queensland to broaden the role of this initiative.”

The Volunteering Queensland report found that almost one-quarter volunteer from home or online, and just under half [44.7 per cent], do so within their communities. And while it is true that people who are retired make up a large proportion of the voluntary workforce, with nearly 75 per cent of organisations working with people aged over 65, young people are also active volunteers. Thirty per cent of organisations said they had volunteers aged under 18, and 26.5 per cent said they had volunteers who are still in school. Lack of time and poor health are the main barriers to volunteering.

Volunteering Queensland says Queenslanders are motivated to volunteer to help each other “as a simple act of giving”. People who volunteer are also looking for social connection and for opportunities to use their skills and experience.

Elizabeth Cowie who has been a lifetime volunteer and currently volunteers with House Conspiracy Art Centre and Kurilpa Futures told the Westender:

“It’s hard to find words to explain why I volunteer, because it is more of a feeling – a good feeling that comes to you when you know you have helped another person.  I grew up being told that  “you have two hands – one for helping yourself and one for helping others”.  I believe this is true, as I have learnt a lot about myself by serving others.”

“When I’m volunteering, I feel certain that I am making a positive difference in the world, to somebody’s world, at the very least.  Volunteering within my community means that I also get to benefit, because my community becomes a better place.  What goes around comes around!”

National Volunteer Week 2021 recognises the contributions of Queenslanders who are giving their time every week to help others.

On Friday 21 May, as National Volunteer Week comes to an end, Volunteering Queensland will celebrate these volunteers at the Queensland Volunteer Awards.

Getting Help

If you are part of an organisation with volunteer involvement and want to advertise voluntary roles, you can register with Volunteering Queensland for a small fee. If you can’t afford the cost, you can subscribe to their newsletter for helpful advice and updates.

If you would like to find a role as a volunteer that suits your skills and interests, check out Volunteering Queensland’s portal for volunteers at this link:

Related stories

The Westender has published stories with, or about the work of, local organisations including, West End Community House, Hope Cafe and Romero Centre, Micah Projects, Community FriendsFriends of South Brisbane Cemetery, West End Making History, West End Community Association and Kurilpa Futures Each relies on the contributions of volunteers. Local volunteers provide an essential service to local sporting clubs, school Parents and Citizens Committees, community events such as the Kurilpa Derby, community gardens such as Jane Street, community arts groups, House Conspiracy and Chrysalis Projects, to unions, environment and activist organisations, and political parties.

Celebrating our local heroes in Griffith

A copy of the State of Volunteering in Queensland report is available here