Why WA’s volunteers are so vitally important to our communities

by Stephen Dawson, Minister for Volunteering

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our local communities. They coach our kids at weekend sports, they give their time to help others, they’re there to help in emergencies and they look after and protect our unique environment.

To me every volunteer who gives their time is a local legend. Across our vast state, volunteers create, support and sustain a variety of organisations and groups by sacrificing their time to deliver services and activities that are essential to our communities, helping them to thrive.

To put this into context, it’s estimated that the social, economic and cultural value of volunteering contributes about $39 billion to Western Australia each year. 

In short, we’d be lost without them.

Since becoming the Minister for Volunteering earlier this year, I’ve been fortunate to meet a wide range of volunteers across WA. One thing I hear regularly from people who volunteer, is how much they get back from the time they give, however big or small that may be.

Studies show that volunteering creates greater psychological wellbeing, self-esteem, happiness, and satisfaction with life, with fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety. People also tell me that volunteering has helped them gain confidence, has helped them to meet new people and make new friends, learn different skills and make a real difference to people’s lives.

Volunteer numbers across Australia are in decline with Covid-19 having a significant impact by creating additional challenges for people who want to get involved. Despite these challenges, volunteers have continued to adapt and innovate to maintain their vital work in helping our communities.

Here in WA, I am very pleased to announce that it’s a totally different story. While the number of volunteers has declined nationally, volunteering rates have remained relatively robust in WA, with the State recording one of the lowest reductions in volunteering compared to all the other jurisdictions. This highlights the strength and resilience of our communities and the desire to provide help when and where it is most needed.

On behalf of the McGowan Government, I want to say a very heartfelt thank you to all of our incredible volunteers who give their time and skills to make WA the fantastic state it is. 

I would also encourage anyone thinking about volunteering to give it a go. The Volunteering WA website has a list of volunteering opportunities and information on how you can get active and get involved.