Giv­ing a lit­tle back

Vol­un­tary work pays off in feel­ing good, writes Cara Jenkin

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WOMEN are more likely to vol­un­teer than men, with on av­er­age about one in three peo­ple giv­ing up their time to help oth­ers, new fig­ures show.

Lat­est Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics fig­ures show 38 per cent of women vol­un­teered in 2010 com­pared to 34 per cent of men.

Peo­ple who were em­ployed were more likely to vol­un­teer, with 44 per cent of part-time staff and 38 per cent of full­time work­ers giv­ing up their time.

Twenty per cent of un­em­ployed and 31 per cent of peo­ple not in the labour force were vol­un­teers.

Chil­dren’s in­volve­ment in sport was one of the rea­sons be­hind most vol­un­teers be­ing in­volved with sport and phys­i­cal re­cre­ation or­gan­i­sa­tions, for which 63 per cent of vol­un­teer­ing fa­thers and 47 per cent of vol­un­teer­ing moth­ers do­nated their time.

Peo­ple aged over 65 were most likely to vol­un­teer for wel­fare and com­mu­nity or­gan­i­sa­tions.

Aus­tralian Cran­io­fa­cial Foun­da­tion vol­un­teer Sharon For­rester-jones, 51, has been or­gan­is­ing fundrais­ing and other events for the foun­da­tion for the past five years.

But she has vol­un­teered with dif­fer­ent char­i­ties for about the past 10 years.

‘‘ A lot of peo­ple think that a vol­un­teer is some­body who gives their time and makes oth­ers feel bet­ter but in fact I feel bet­ter,’’ she says.

‘‘ I’ve led such a for­tu­nate life and feel pretty lucky and love to give some­thing back.

BY THE NUM­BERS

Those who vol­un­teer their time in­clude:

44 per cent of part-time work­ers.

38 per cent of full-time staff.

20 per cent of un­em­ployed peo­ple.

31 per cent of those not in the labour force.

‘‘ It’s a lit­tle bit self­ish re­ally. I think I get more out of it than other peo­ple do.’’

The foun­da­tion raises funds to sup­port the Aus­tralian Cran­io­fa­cial Unit, in par­tic­u­lar, to pro­vide and de­velop

66 per cent of vol­un­teers say their par­ents did vol­un­tary work.

27 per cent of vol­un­teers also pro­vide care to some­one with a dis­abil­ity, long-term health con­di­tion or old age prob­lems, com­pared to 17 per cent of non-vol­un­teers. cran­io­fa­cial ser­vices in Australia and Third World coun­tries.

She says see­ing the hap­pi­ness in the peo­ple the foun­da­tion helps is a great feel­ing.

‘‘ It can re­ally al­ter a life, or lives,’’ she says.

‘‘ I’m very lucky. I have got a won­der­ful sup­port net­work around me.’’

She usu­ally does some vol­un­tary work ev­ery day, whether it’s mak­ing one phone call or spend­ing four hours work­ing on a func­tion, and jug­gles her vol­un­teer work with work­ing at her hus­band’s en­gi­neer­ing busi­ness.

She en­cour­ages other peo­ple to take a look at vol­un­teer­ing what time they can give.

‘‘ The re­wards are enor­mous,’’ she says.

‘‘ The feel-good hor­mones that it re­leases into your sys­tem, to see such a dif­fer­ence your hard work does to some­one else, is a won­der­ful thing.’’

Picture: Naomi Jellicoe

HAPPY HELPER: Cran­io­fa­cial Foun­da­tion vol­un­teer Sharon For­rester-jones as­sists spe­cial­ist sur­geon Pro­fes­sor David David.

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