A report of the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on 1 December 2011, paints a surprisingly rosy picture of volunteerism in Australia and it is somewhat at odds with strata managers’ perceptions on the topic.
In 2010, 6.1 million people (36% of the Australia population aged 18 years and over) participated in voluntary work slightly up from 34% in 2006. Women (38%) volunteer more than men (34%) and those outside the capital cities (41%) volunteered more than those in the capital cities (34%). Sydneysiders volunteer slightly more than Melbournians but a little less than Brisbanites and Canberrans.
Professionals do more volunteer work than blue-collar workers and full time workers do more than part time workers. The old adage that if you want something done you should give it to a busy person, holds true.
Not surprisingly, volunteering in the form of serving on a strata community committee did not rank in the list of favourite ways to spend one’s free time. I suspect this is partly due to the relatively small number of strata communities with active committees but also in part due to the way we in the strata industry perceive and portray the nature of committee work. I don’t think we always see strata committee work as the form of community service that it is, and we should.
If we ‘sold’ the role as a valuable contribution to society, we might get more people to serve and they might be of a higher calibre than some that do serve but for all the wrong reasons.
So why is the role important to society? Here are three thoughts for starters:
- Strata committee work touches peoples lives in the most intimate of places, their homes, and the committee’s work will have a material affect on people’s mental health;
- The decisions of the strata committee effect the built environment in a material way as more cities build more units than houses;
- High-rise buildings are bigger consumers of energy than homes so strata committee work now presents a significant way to help the environment.
This report shows there are plenty who will do the right thing. We have to find new ways to reach out to them. Read the report here.