One of the biggest hits to the Australian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic has been in a sector where not a single dollar changes hands.
Volunteering is worth $290 billion each year, but new research estimates two-thirds of Australia’s seven million volunteers stopped serving as the virus spread.
Researchers from The Australian National University’s Centre for Social Research and Methods say the drop in volunteering was equal to 12.2 million hours per week.
Professor Nicholas Biddle said volunteers often contribute where professional services may not be available – particularly to those most vulnerable in our community.
“The decline in volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic will potentially reduce the amount and quality of services that many Australians rely upon,” he said.
While volunteers generally enjoy a higher level of life satisfaction than non-volunteers, those who usually give of their time have reported higher levels of stress during the pandemic than the broader population.
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