You Make A Life By What You Give: Volunteering in Australia

You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”

– Winston Churchill.


The official definition of volunteering states: “Volunteering is time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain.”

A 2016 survey by Volunteering Australia said that 48% of Australians take part in formal volunteering, 40% take part in both formal and informal volunteering, and 6% only do informal volunteering. The last 6% do not do any kind of volunteering whatsoever.


The survey also said that 99% of volunteers would continue to engage in volunteering in the future, and 93% saw positive changes as a result of their volunteering efforts. 67% of volunteer-involving organisations stated that volunteers bring new insights into their organisation. 57% of staff in volunteer-involving organisations are actually volunteers themselves.


Most volunteers (58% in 2010) only work with one organisation, and 38% work at least once a week. Others volunteer less frequently. But this isn’t a bad thing – volunteering doesn’t necessarily have to be a long-term commitment! It can be done in small, simple ways that can still be beneficial!


Whether it’s short- and long-term, volunteering has the potential to improve people’s quality of life. It has lots of benefits, including happiness. International research also suggests that volunteers are more likely to be healthier, and be able to sleep better. This has been consistent in over 50 separate investigative research projects!


Volunteering can also improve social connections and opportunities for employment!


In other words: volunteering can improve your life, health, and well-being.


Research says that volunteering only two or three hours a week (which calculates as 100 hours a year) results in the largest benefits for people and for the organisations or causes they’re supporting.


For some people, work is the root cause of depression. I believe we are spiritual beings inhabiting a body. There are certain things we should be doing based on our personality and experiences that will give us the most pleasure and enable us to give back to society. For some of us, the things we do for a living are the opposite of this.


Volunteering is a perfect way to give back to society in a pleasurable manner.


Volunteering in this way that not only provide you with a purpose that aligns more with your life path, but benefits others too. Even if you only volunteer a couple of hours a week, you’ll still make a difference.


There are plenty of volunteering opportunities out there, across eight sectors: corporate; tourism (or voluntourism); education; community services; emergency services; sport and recreation; environment, heritage, and animal welfare; and the arts.


If you’re keen to volunteer, there’ll no doubt be one that’ll suit you.


I’m a volunteer myself. I started volunteering at Volunteering Tasmania in May 2017 after finishing an internship there, and I’m loving every second of it.


I help with media and communications, and assist with admin tasks. From time-to-time I also help out with official events like symposiums and network meetings. On top of this, I also write profiles on fellow volunteers for local newspapers.


Through this work I’ve gained experience in journalism, media, and communications (which I also studied at university). I’ve also learnt more about the craft of writing, and have met and worked with some amazing people.


But above all, volunteering has given me a sense of purpose. I’m job hunting at the moment, but instead of sitting at home all day, volunteering has given me a reason to leave the house and do something productive.


Words by Callum J. Jones


The Hummingbird Effect

One of the wonderful things about the Fringe is it often takes you to new and exciting places. The Lab is not somewhere I’ve ever visited before and I didn’t realise it existed until I arrived. A small tucked-away performance space on Playhouse Lane, just off Light Square, which also hosts visual arts exhibitions.

Sometimes you choose the show for the name and for me, I chose The Hummingbird Effect not just for the intriguing name but for the hummingbird poster.

On entering there isn’t much clue as to what to expect. The stage is littered with dream catchers, incense is floating on the air… And a piano awaits on stage. As the lights go down and Deborah arrives the audience anticipation is palpable. This is going to be something special.

The show centres around the concept of the hummingbird effect and the idea that just one chance encounter can change the course of your life. Deborah Brennan tells us about her interaction with the hummingbird effect after having her top three life experiences not to have (redundancy, depression, and a psychic connection). She highlights the importance of the hummingbird moment for her and tells us how it helped her get back on her feet and break back into the music world.

Interspersed with classic songs in which Deborah shows not just her incredible pianist ability, but her vocal one, her story held the audience captive from the first moment until the last.

Having gone in with little expectation I am pleased to report I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Hearing about Deborah’s challenges and how she gradually put herself back together again was inspiring. Creativity is a strong theme throughout the show as Deborah is undoubtedly a talented artist trying to move through life and be true to her art. I would highly recommend getting down to see her show, of which there is unfortunately only one more show.


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Four and a half stars.

The Hummingbird Effect is playing at Queen’s Theatre at the Lab. Tickets available here.