There is no doubt that 2020 will be a year for the history books. The unprecedented change across societies, nations and the globe has been characterised by a time of increased volatility and disruption.
Recent data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows how Australians (aged 15 and over) lived between June and September of this iconic year. During the time of this study, Australia was experiencing international and national travel restrictions, stimulus payments like JobKeeper and JobSeeker, various restrictions and a second lockdown for Victoria. Despite these challenging circumstances, Australians have still given to others and helped those in need.
A quarter of Australians volunteered in 2020
In 2020, a quarter (25%) of Australians volunteered through an organisation, which contributed 489.5 million hours to the community! With increased restrictions and less mobility, this was a slightly lower proportion than in 2019 (30%).
During this time, older Australians were more likely to volunteer than their younger counterparts. Of those aged 40-54, 31% volunteered through an organisation, compared to 19% of those aged 15-24 years.
Sport and physical recreation topped the types of organisations people volunteered for (31% of volunteers) followed by religious groups (23%) and education and training (19%) – which is consistent with the types of organisations people volunteered for in 2019.
For those who did not do any volunteer work, the main reasons given were ‘no time (family/work commitments)’ (52%) and ‘not interested/no need’ (33%).
Half of Aussies provided support to non-household members
During a tough year, one in two Australians still provided support to those who did not live in their household. One in two (49%) Australians provided unpaid work and support to non-household members, largely through ‘emotional support’ (54%), ‘transport or running errands’ (38%) and ‘domestic work, home maintenance or gardening’ (37%). These were the same most common types of unpaid work/support as in 2019.
While the proportion was similar to 2019 (52%), in cumulative hours it was down from 2019 (136.2 million hours in 2019 compared to 113.9 million hours in 2020).
Online donations were the key form of engagement during the pandemic
The stay-at-home requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes made 2020 a difficult year for charities/not-for-profits who largely fundraise in face-to-face environments. According to our 2021 Australian Communities Report, the key form of engagement during the pandemic was online donations (45%), above volunteering onsite, advocating and raising awareness and volunteering from home.