National Student Volunteer Week – 7 to 13 August 2023
National Student Volunteer Week, 7 to 13 August, is an annual celebration that acknowledges and celebrates student volunteers and promotes volunteering to students and young people across Australia.
Volunteering is the act of helping others in the wider community, and building empathy and understanding, that is a critical protective factor against mental ill-health.
A new report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has found that if a child is involved in volunteering before the age of 13, the odds of having poor mental health are reduced by around 28%.
As well, children who demonstrate ‘prosocial’ behaviours, such as caring for others or doing acts of kindness, were 11% less likely to experience mental ill-health.
AIFS researcher, Karlee O’Donnell, said the findings indicate that parents should encourage their children to volunteer in the community, particularly in the pre-teen years.
While our Meaningful Connections program requires volunteers to be 18 years and above, a number of volunteers visit with their children, role modelling the importance of giving back and hopefully planting the seed of civic engagement for generations to come.
One of our parent and teen volunteering teams at BHN, Gina and daughter Audrey who share their experience and thoughts on volunteering.
Audrey: “I really benefit from having interaction with a lovely older person, as my own grandparents live interstate and I don’t get to spend a lot of time with them. I enjoy hearing about their life experiences as they are so different from mine and it helps to make me feel grateful for what I have”.
Gina: “This volunteer role has been so great, as it allows Audrey and I to spend some special time together; that is just the two of us enjoying the company of our older person. When Audrey was little we would spend lots of time together but now she is a teenager it is harder to get that time together and we both feel good about being able to help someone else in our community. It is such a small thing we do, not a lot of time out of our week, but it makes a big difference in the life of the person we visit and that makes us both feel really nice”.
To read the full report on the benefits of youth volunteering, click here.