Volunteering plays a key role in sustaining healthy, resilient communities and contributes significantly to the quality and vibrancy of our society.
In South Australia, the volunteering effort is valued at $5 billion annually. If we had to rely on paying everyone to undertake these activities, it would leave an enormous gap and society would be the poorer for it.
Who would fight bushfires? Who would coach the under 12s? Who would care for our parks? Who would deliver meals to the elderly? Who would organise the thousands of events run each year to raise money for charity?
The reality is there is only so much that government at all levels can do. Beyond that, we rely on volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations to extend value to our communities to make them safe, robust, inclusive and culturally rich.
It is also true that volunteering is usually thought of in terms of the benefits it brings to others. The fact that it benefits those who themselves volunteer is often overlooked. Contributing time and effort is a significant way of exercising active citizenship as well as reflecting a high level of social capital. It’s that simple.
There are also health benefits. For instance, the retired and retiring population alone contains an immense wealth of skills and experience. Keeping those skills and experience in play may actually help people live longer, healthier lives.
When considering the value of volunteering to the South Australian economy, it makes sense for us to do everything we can to support, grow, recognise and enhance volunteering. When we sustain volunteering as a dynamic force in our society – and help it thrive – everyone benefits. Volunteering matters.
At the heart of the Volunteering Strategy for South Australia are values and principles that aim to improve the experience of volunteers, enhance outcomes for volunteer involving organisations, and to get to a point where the majority of South Australians are engaged in some form of volunteering activity.