Decline in volunteering heralds ‘collapse in community life’

The 2021 census found just over 2.9 million people had done voluntary work in 2021, or about 14 per cent of those who answered (Pexels/Julia M Cameron)

Community and charity groups are dealing with plummeting rates of volunteering, and Charities Minister Andrew Leigh is on a mission to halt the crisis in community participation. Source: The Age.

Reports compiled by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) show the number of volunteers has been steadily falling each year. It estimated there were 3.3 million volunteers in 2020, and the census found just over 2.9 million people had done voluntary work in 2021, or about 14 per cent of those who answered.

As well, volunteering tended to be a discretionary thing for people and thus was one of the things they dropped as they looked for more space in their life.

But Mr Leigh says the problem is broader than volunteerism. Australians are now less likely to be a member of a community organisation, go to religious services, be a union member, play a team sport, give blood, and don’t have as many friends or know as many neighbours as they used to.

“I’m trying to use the charities portfolio as a community-building portfolio to deal with what I think is one of the biggest challenges that Australia faces, which is the collapse of community life,” he said.

There are more than 46,000 charities registered with the national watchdog and Mr Leigh has aspirations to meet them all – or as many as he can.

He’ll make a start over the next fortnight with a series of roundtables planned in every capital city, before expanding to regional areas. Mr Leigh wants to hear from the sector about what Government can do to help rebuild the civic community.

FULL STORY

Declining rate of volunteering heralds ‘collapse in community life’: minister (By Katina Curtis, The Age

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