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Volunteers in sport in NSW

(as at March 2011)

There are four main sources of information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics for ‘volunteers’ in sport in NSW. These surveys all collect different information on volunteers depending on their predominant focus. As a consequence, there are many different numbers of volunteers in NSW cited in various documents which can cause confusion.

  1. Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity 2010 survey (ABS Cat. No. 6285.0) – this survey is the one we use for examining different volunteer roles in sporting organisations.It gives us details on people in non-playing roles such as coaches, committee members, referees etc. There have been six surveys run in 1993, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007 and 2010 allowing some trends to be assessed.
  2. General Social Survey 2006 (ABS Cat. No. 4159.0)– this survey contains a volunteer module which can be compared across a range of social and demographic characteristics collected in the same survey. This survey enables comparisons of volunteers in ‘sport, recreation and hobby’ organisations with those in other types of organisations. Two surveys have been run - 2002 and 2006 - with results from the latter released on 22 May 2007.
  3. Sports and Physical Recreation Services, Australia 2004-05 (ABS Cat. No. 8686.0) is the first of this series with this title. Previous surveys with the same catalogue number and collecting similar data were run in 1994/95 and 2000/01 and called Sports Industries, Australia (ABS Cat. No.8686.0). This survey is good for looking at details of businesses in the sporting industry including financial details and employment – both paid employment and volunteers – although the scope of ‘volunteers’ in this survey is very limited.
  4. Census of Population and Housing, 2006 – in the latest Census of Population and Housing, Question 51 asked ‘In the last twelve months did the person spend any time doing voluntary work through an organisation or group?’ The options for responses were only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ i.e. there is not any type of organisation or industry to enable ‘sport’ volunteers to be extracted. 

1. Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity survey

Support people (includes both volunteers and paid people)

In 2010, there were 458,500 people in NSW involved in organised sport or physical activity in a non-playing or support role such as a coach, referee, committee member, scorer etc. This comprised 263,400 males and 195,200 females.

Many support people perform more than one role e.g. as both a committee member and a coach. In 2010, sport support people performed 653,600 support roles – an average of 1.4 roles per person.

Type of support role performed

Type of support role performed

Out of the 653,600 support roles performed in NSW in 2010, the most common role was that of a coach, instructor or teacher with 206,000 roles or a third (32%) of all support roles.

The next most common role was that of committee member or administrator with 158,600 roles or 24% of all support roles.

Scorers/timekeepers and referees/umpires were next with 128,000 (20%) and 98,300 (15%) roles respectively.

Medical and other support roles accounted for the remainder – 62,700 (10%) roles.

Trend from 1997 to 2010
Trend from 1997 to 2010

There has been a gradual decrease in the proportion of the population (aged 15 and over) who were involved in a non-playing role in sport from 1997 to 2010.

In all 5 surveys, there have been higher proportions of males than females in sport support roles. Since 1997, the proportion of males in support roles has decreased from 11.7% to 9.5% - a 19% decrease whereas the equivalent decrease for females in support roles was 16%, from 8.1% in 1997 down to 6.8% in 2010.

In 1997, one in every 10 adults (9.8%) was in a sport support role compared to only one in 12 (8.1%) in 2010a 17% decrease in 13 years.

Proportion of sport support people by gender and age group - 2010

Proportion of sport support people by gender and age group - 2010

  • as can be seen by the graph, the 35 to 44 year age group (yellow) had the highest proportion of support people of all age groups – more than a quarter (27%) of the total number of support people in organised sport in NSW in 2010.  This comprised 25% of all male support people and 29% of all female support people.
  • the next highest proportion was the 15 – 24 year age group (orange) accounting for  21% of the total number of support people – 23% male and 19% female.

 

Participation rates by age groups

Participation rates by age groups

  • the 35 to 44 year age group also had the highest proportion of any age group i.e. 12.3% of all 35 to 44 year-olds in NSW had a support role in organised sport in 2010 in NSW
  • the highest proportions of males in NSW with support roles were 13.5% in the 35 to 44 year age group and 12.3% in the 15-24  year age group
  • the highest proportions of females in NSW with support roles were 11.1% of females in the 35 to 44 year age group and 7.8% in the 15 to 24 year age group

Other demographics of support people

Labour force status

  • the majority of sport support people were employed – 75% of the total
  • three-quarters of those employed worked full-time with only a quarter employed on a part-time basis
  • only 4% were unemployed and 21% not in the labour force (not looking for work, retired etc) 

 Capital city versus rest of State

  • the majority (54%) of support people lived in Sydney
  • however, the participation rate of those support people in Sydney was only 7% of the total number of people in Sydney aged 15 and over, whereas the participation rate for those in the rest of NSW was 10%.

Country of birth

  • nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) support people in organised sport were Australian-born
  • out of the 13% born overseas, two-thirds of these were born in an English-speaking country with only a third of all support people born in a non-English-speaking country
  • the participation rate for support people born in Australia was 10% compared to 8% for those born in an English-speaking country and compared to less than 2% of the support people born in a non-English speaking country.

Type of role of support people by weeks of involvement  
Type of role of support people by weeks of involvement

This chart above shows the proportion of support roles by the number of weeks in that role during the previous year.

Three-quarters of all support roles involve between 1 and 26 weeks whereas only a quarter involve between 27 and 52 weeks.  

A greater proportion of coaches/instructors/teachers and committee members or administrators tended to work 27 weeks or more during the year.

Type of role of support people by weeks of involvement

Type of role of support people by weeks of involvement  

This chart shows that the numbers of hours per week that most people spend on support roles is fairly evenly distributed between less than hours and 3 hours or more.

Only coaches/instructors/teachers tended to spend a higher proportion of time (pink - 3 hours or more) on their roles. Whereas, most scorers/timekeepers spent less than 3 hours (mauve) on their roles.

Trends in sport support persons (both paid and unpaid)

As can be seen by the graph below, the trendlines for committee members or administrators and referees or umpires show decreases whereas the other roles - coaches/instructors/teachers, scorers/timekeepers and medical support show slight upward trends

Although some of these changes at the NSW level are not considered statistically significant by the ABS, the NSW trends reflect similar ones to trends in other states/territories and to the national trend.

Trends in sport support persons (both paid and unpaid)

Volunteers (excluding paid support persons)

The previous data relates to all sport support people in NSW i.e. those in either a paid and/or volunteer capacity. However, most of these support people were volunteers.

Out of the 458,500 sport support people in NSW

  • 362,200 people did not receive any payment for their involvement
  • this means that 79% of all those people involved in a support role in organised sport were volunteers
  • this was a 6.4 % participation rate of all people in NSW aged 15 years and over
  • these volunteers participated in approximately 549,000 roles – note that standard errors make it difficult to be exact
  • volunteers accounted for approximately 84% of all non-playing roles and an average of 1.5 different roles per volunteer  

Types of volunteer roles

Types of volunteer roles

  • The most number of volunteer support roles performed were as coaches, instructors or teachers – 151,200 people performed these volunteer roles i.e. 2.7% of the NSW population aged 15 and over
  • the next largest group was as committee members or administrators – 148,500 people or 2.6% of the total adult population
  • volunteer scorers or timekeepers were the next highest number of roles performed at 123,000 or 2.2%
  • the next highest group was as volunteer referees or umpires with 71,100 or 1.3%
  • there were 55,000 unpaid medical and other support roles –  1%

Trends of proportions of sports volunteers in NSW

The graph below is for sports volunteers only i.e. it excludes any paid support people in sport. The trends are similar to those of all sport support people (both paid and unpaid) in the previous graph

Trends of proportions of sports volunteers in NSW

2. General Social Survey (GSS) 2006

This survey was released on 22 May 2007 and more analysis released in November 2008.

Detailed analysis from the previous GSS (2002) can be found in the ABS report ‘Sport volunteers and Other Volunteers (PDF)

The following data from the GSS (2006) is taken from Volunteers in Sport and was collected in the ABS General Social Survey (GSS) 2006. The data is available from the ABS website in Excel spreadsheet format.

All volunteers

Results from the GSS show there was a total of 1,676,100 volunteers in NSW in 2006.  This was a third of all people aged 18 years and over in NSW. More volunteers were female (53.7%) than male (46.3%). Most volunteers were aged between 35 and 54 years of age – 45.2% of all volunteers.

Sport and physical recreation volunteers

Out of the 1.7 million volunteers in NSW in 2006, there were 489,200 people aged 18 and over who volunteered in sport and physical recreation organisations (hereon known as sports volunteers). Sports volunteers accounted for 29.2% of all volunteers and 9.5% of the total population of NSW aged 18 years and over.

  • these ‘sport’ volunteers made up 29% of all volunteers in NSW in 2006 – the highest proportion of all sectors
  • the next closest sectors were welfare/community services and education/training – both at 24% each
  • sport volunteers had a participation rate of 9.5% which means that one in ten people aged 18 years and over were sports volunteers in NSW in 2006
  • comparisons to results from the GSS in 2002 cannot be made due to differences in scope between the surveys

Sports volunteers and other volunteers as a proportion of all volunteers

Sports volunteers and other volunteers as a proportion of all volunteers

Gender and age

Gender and age

In contrast with volunteers from other types of organisations, sports volunteers were more likely to be male (62.1%) than female (37.9%). As can be seen in the graph, sports volunteers (green) were also more likely to be younger than those from other organisations (blue).

More than half of all sports volunteers (55.7%) were aged between 35 and 54 years – 30.6% between 35 and 44 years and 25.1% between 45 and 54 years. This was in contrast to other types of organisations which had only 40.9% of their volunteers aged between 35 and 54 years.

Country of birth

Country of birth

Sports volunteers were most likely to be born in Australia (86.8%) or in another English-speaking country (5.6%). Only 7.6% of sports volunteers were born in a non-English speaking country. This was much lower than the 21% from non-English speaking country who volunteered in other types of organisations and the 21% proportion of the NSW population.

Labour force status

Labour force status

Sports volunteers were more likely to be employed (82.4%) than volunteers for other organisations (60.9%).  Out of the 82.4% employed in sports organisations, 62.3% were employed full-time and 20.1% part-time.  Only 17.6% of sports volunteers were unemployed or not in the labour force compared to 39.1% of volunteers in other organisations.

Socio-economic index

Socio-economic index

Note: lowest quintile = volunteers from the most disadvantaged areas and highest quintile = volunteers from the least disadvantaged areas

A third (32.5%) of sports volunteers came from the highest quintile in the relative index of socio-economic disadvantage (i.e. the least disadvantaged) as did 29.2% of other volunteers. As can be seen in the graph, there is little difference in the index of socio-economic disadvantage between sports volunteers and those who volunteered for other organisations.

Household type

Household type

Half (49.8%) of all sports volunteers were one family households consisting of a couple and dependent children compared to only a third of volunteers from other organisations. Volunteers from other organisations were more likely (38%) to be from one family households consisting of a couple without dependent children.

Occupation

Occupation

The most common occupation group for sports volunteers was ‘professionals’ – one if five (21.4%) sports volunteers were from this group. The next highest group was unemployed/not in labour force at 18.4%. 

Frequency of volunteering

Frequency of volunteering

Note: the sum of volunteering involvements exceeds the number of volunteers because individual volunteers may work for more than one organisation in each given organisation type

Sports volunteers volunteer more frequently than those in other organisations. Six out of 10 (60.6%) sports volunteers volunteered at least once a week compared to less than half (46.7%) in other organisations.

Hours of volunteering

Hours of volunteering

More than half (51.7%) of all sports volunteers volunteered 80 or more hours in 2006 compared to only 41.6% of volunteers in other organisations. The graph shows how sports volunteers tend to do more hours of volunteering than their counterparts in other organisations.

Length of time volunteering

Length of time volunteering

More than half of all volunteers had volunteered for more than 10 years. The graph shows there was little difference between the length of time volunteering between sports volunteers and other volunteers.

How first became a volunteer

How first became a volunteer

More than half (56.5%) of sports volunteers had volunteered more than 10 years. Other frequent responses to ‘how first became involved’ in sport volunteering were ‘someone asked’ (15.9%) and ‘knew someone involved’ (11.3%).

Type of voluntary activity

Most volunteers tended to have multiple roles with more than half of sports volunteers coaching/refereeing/judging (54.3%) and fundraising/sales (54.8%). 

There were 41.8% of sports volunteers doing administration/information management/clerical and 35.4% involved in preparing/serving food. Another common activity for sports volunteers was management/committee work/coordination with 30.2% of sports volunteers performing that activity. Other activities with large proportions of sports volunteers were transporting people/goods (26.3%) and teaching/instruction/providing information (25.7%).

Type of voluntary activity undertaken (%)
 Activity Sports organisation other organisation All organisations
Administration/clerical/recruitment/information management 41.8 26.0 30.6
Coaching/refereeing/judging 54.3 12.5 24.7
Performing/media production *7.0 11.5 10.2
Befriending/supportive listening/counselling/mentoring 16.5 29.7 25.8
Fundraising/sales 54.8 52.0 52.8
Preparing/serving food 35.4 42.2 40.2
Transporting people/goods 26.3 29.9 28.8
Repairing/maintenance/gardening 15.8 23.4 21.2
Management/committee work/coordination 30.2 23.0 25.1
Personal care/assistance *3.9 13.1 10.4
Teaching/instruction/providing information 25.7 36.9 33.7
Lobbying/advocacy/policy research *6.3 8.6 7.9
Search and rescue/first Aid
 firefighting/community safety
*3.9 6.9 6.0
Protecting the environment *4.1 8.1 7.0
Other *2.6 9.8 7.7
Total 100.0 100.0 100.0

* = Treat with caution as standard error high

Proportion of activity spent most time on

Proportion of activity spent most time on

The main activity sports volunteers spent time on was coaching/refereeing/judging taking 33.5% of their time. In contrast, the main activity volunteers from other organisations spent time doing was fundraising/sales at 29.2%. The graph above shows sports volunteers only.

Selected demographics of volunteers’ friends

The majority of sports volunteers had all or most of their friends of the same ethnic background (72.0%). Two-thirds of sports volunteers had all or most of their friends of a similar age (66.2%) and just over half of sports volunteers (56.6%) had all or most of their friends from a similar educational background.

Friends of volunteers from other organisations had similar demographics to those of sports volunteers’.  

Reasons for becoming a volunteer

The main reason more than half (56.2%) of sports volunteers gave for becoming a volunteer was ‘to help others/community’ - this was a similar proportion given by both genders.

Nearly half (49.2%) of all sports volunteers said ‘personal satisfaction’ was a reason for volunteering with more males than females citing this reason. The next most cited reason was ‘personal/family involvement’ given by 45.6% of all sports volunteers – more females than males cited this as a reason.

The table below contains all reasons given by gender.

Reasons for becoming a volunteer (a) Males Females Total
Personal/family involvement 40.1% 54.6% 45.6%
Personal satisfaction 52.7% 43.6% 49.2%
Social contact 25.7% 15.7% 21.9%
Religious belief 9.7% 8.2% 9.1%
To be active 21.3% 23.8% 22.3%
To learn new skills 12.8% 5.3% 10.0%
To do something worthwhile 33.1% 28.4% 31.3%
Help others/community 56.8% 55.3% 56.2%
Gain work experience 7.7% 1.6% 5.4%
Use skills/experience 24.2% 14.2% 20.4%
Felt obliged 3.6% 6.1% 4.6%
Just happened 0.5% 0.6% 0.5%
Other 1.7% 0.8% 1.4%

(a) persons may have given more than one reason

Attendance at sporting or cultural and leisure event

Attendance at sporting or cultural and leisure event

Sporting volunteers had double the likelihood of attending a sporting event (82.8%) than volunteers from other organisations (42.7%). However, sporting volunteers were just as likely to attend a culture or leisure venue or event (96.5%) as other volunteers (94.6%).

Involvement in selected community groups

Involvement in selected community groups

Sports volunteers were more likely to be involved in health promotion and support, trade unions/professional/technical associations and social clubs providing restaurants and bars than those volunteers from other organisations.

In contrast, other volunteers were more likely to be involved in craft or practical hobby group or religious or spiritual group.

Level of generalised trust

Level of generalised trust

Two-thirds of sports volunteers (66.3%) agreed (either strongly or somewhat) to the statement ‘you believe most people can be trusted’. This was a higher proportion than both volunteers from other organisations (56.5%) and non-volunteers (50.9%).  

Feelings of safety

Feelings of safety

Sports volunteers were more likely to feel safer than other volunteers when walking alone in their local area after dark – 58.5% of sports volunteers reported feeling ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’ compared to only 47.8% of other volunteers feeling ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’. This compared with only 44.7% of non-volunteers.

Sports volunteers and volunteers from other organisations were just as likely to feel ‘very safe’ or ‘safe’ at home alone during the day (96%).

Self-assessed health status

Self-assessed health status

More than 3 out of ten (31.5%) sports volunteers rated their health as ‘excellent’.  This result was higher than volunteers from other organisations where just over one in five (22.5%) assessed their health as ‘excellent’.

Volunteers’ expenses for sports volunteers

Volunteers’ expenses for sports volunteers

More than half (63.7%) of sports volunteers incurred some expense while volunteering – higher than the 56.6% of ‘other’ volunteers.  Travel costs was the most frequently reported expense with 52.2% of sports volunteers incurring this cost. The next most frequently reported cost was phone calls incurred by 49.7% of volunteers. 

Most expenses were not reimbursed - out of the total number of sports volunteers who incurred expenses, only one in five (21.8%) had any of their costs reimbursed. This was a similar proportion to volunteers from other organisations (20%).

3. Sports and Physical Recreation Services, Australia 2004-05

This is an ABS survey of businesses/organisations predominantly engaged in sports and physical recreation services. The most recent survey was conducted in respect of the 2004-05 financial year and is the third ABS survey of sports and physical recreation services. Previous collections were conducted in 1994-95 and 2000-01.
 
The data from this survey is particularly useful when looking at employing and significant non-employing businesses/organisations which are coded to the sport and recreation according to ABS classifications. However, it is not a valid measure of the total number of volunteers in sport and recreation organisations. Another issue is due to confidentiality restrictions, total results are not available for NSW.

Australian results showed that at the end of June 2005, total employment in sports and physical recreation services was 111,519 persons. In addition, there were 181,832 volunteers during the month of June 2005.

4. Census of Population and Housing, 2006

Overall, 17% or one in six people in NSW aged 15 and over said they had performed voluntary work in the 12 months prior to the 2006 Census. Those aged between 35 and 44 years had the highest number of volunteers (188,677) with the 45 to 54 age group having the largest proportion of any age group at 20.5%.

Volunteers as a proportion of total age group – 2006 Census

Volunteers as a proportion of total age group – 2006 Census

About the data

Information contained in this document has been drawn from a range of published and unpublished data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

  • Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Activity 2010 survey (ABS Cat. No. 6285.0)
  • General Social Survey 2006 (ABS Cat. No. 4159.0)
  • Volunteers in Sport, Australia, 2006 (ABS Cat. No. 4440.0.55.001)
  • Sports and Physical Recreation Services, Australia 2004-05 (ABS Cat. No. 8686.0)
  • Census of Population and Housing, 2006

 

 

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