Western Australia’s rural communities are more engaged in volunteering than anyone in urban areas, but the sector is facing volunteer shortages and burnout risks.

 Report author Professor Kirsten Holmes, from the School of Marketing at Curtin University, said volunteers delivered crucial roles in under-resourced communities, but an ageing population and trend towards city-living among younger people was a growing challenge for the sector. “Our ageing population is creating stronger demand for services provided by volunteers including social activities and respite care for seniors. Recruiting younger people, new migrants to the community and early retirees who are not already volunteering should be a priority for volunteer organisations,” Professor Holmes said to Mirage News.

The volunteering landscape in rural Western Australia was measured by Holmes' report;  ‘The social and economic sustainability of WA’s rural workforce’.

It's key findings are:

  • Rural Western Australians have a very high rate of involvement in local volunteer activities, with more than 50 per cent of the population engaged in local volunteering.
  • The most popular volunteer activities are sport and emergency services.
  • Volunteers shift the nature of their participation in response to changes in their life stage. Starting a family and entering retirement are key stages when people become more engaged in volunteering.
  • Volunteers become and remain involved in volunteering because they believe it is integral to the survival of the community.
  • Volunteer participation is linked to social wellbeing, with those engaged in volunteering more likely to be happy with their sense of community.

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