Cost-of-living relief welcome but impact on volunteering cannot be ignored
Volunteering Australia welcomes the Australian Treasurer’s significant cost of living relief package and his acknowledgement of the financial pressures facing individuals and communities. However, the Budget does not recognise that the cost-of-living crisis is having far-reaching consequences – on people’s ability to volunteer, on organisations engaging volunteers, and on vital services provided to communities in need.
“We cannot ignore the long reach of the cost-of-living crisis on volunteers and volunteering, and the impact it is having on the social fabric of society. Our research shows that financial pressures are a barrier to volunteering. People are motivated to volunteer but are finding it too costly to participate.”Volunteering Australia CEO, Mark Pearce
The 2022 Volunteering in Australia research, which informed the development of the new National Strategy for Volunteering, revealed financial pressures to be a significant barrier to volunteering, especially among younger people. 25.5 per cent of people aged 18 to 34 years indicated ‘financial reasons’ as a reason they did not volunteer. Just over half (54 per cent) of volunteers incur out-of-pocket expenses through their volunteering role. The research also showed that volunteer involving organisations are also under significant financial strain, which affects their capacity to deliver services and engage their volunteers safely and effectively.
The new National Strategy for Volunteering sets out a roadmap for a sustainable future for volunteering. The National Strategy was co-designed and is owned by the volunteering ecosystem. The Australian Government has an important role in enabling the National Strategy and investing in its implementation.
Volunteering Australia’s Pre-Budget Submission recommended a partnership fund to support the implementation of the new National Strategy for Volunteering which would include contributions from Government, philanthropy, corporates, and other stakeholders across the volunteering ecosystem. A Volunteering Cost of Living Relief package was also recommended to help organisations
to survive and continue undertaking their vital work during the current cost of living crisis, particularly small, volunteer-run organisations.
“The work that volunteers do is not a ‘nice to have’; it is essential work that supports our schools and hospitals, our aged care and disability services, and our ability to support the community in times of crisis. Volunteering does not just happen. As the National Strategy for Volunteering shows, it requires deliberate and ongoing strategic investment underpinned by adequate resourcing. We cannot afford to ignore the impact that the cost-of-living crisis is having on volunteering.”Volunteering Australia CEO, Mark Pearce
Volunteering Australia provided a pre-budget submission setting out the investment needed in the 2023-24 Federal Budget to chart the course for volunteering to thrive in the future. Our submission demonstrates how targeted strategic investment in volunteering will enable the Government to meet its key priorities.
- Establish a National Strategy for Volunteering Partnership Fund. This Fund would support
the implementation of the new National Strategy for Volunteering and include contributions
from Government, philanthropy, corporates, and other stakeholders across the volunteering
- Provide Volunteering Cost of Living Relief. This would help organisations to survive and
continue undertaking their vital work during the current cost of living crisis, particularly
small, volunteer-run organisations.
- Implement a National Youth Volunteering Initiative. This initiative could mitigate against
poor mental health outcomes for unemployed and underemployed youngpeople and
support pathways to paid employment.
- Develop a nationally co-ordinated approach to volunteer engagement in emergencies. As
the frequency and scale of emergencies in Australia increases, a nationally co-ordinated
approach would help to mobilise volunteers rapidly, safely, and effectively during times of
- Invest in the Aged Care volunteer workforce. Funding should be allocated for the
volunteering recommendations made by the Aged Care Royal Commission.