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Giving your time to other people or causes can help make the world a better place – it could also improve your life.

Volunteering is renowed for helping improve the lives and circumstances of others. It also “creates and sustains bonds of trust, societal cohesion and helps to forge a common sense of identity and destiny”, according to the United Nations 2011 State of the World’s Volunteerism Report.

Along with helping improve the world, doing volunteer work can also benefit the person who is giving their time.

According to Jacquelyn Hole, executive director for communications and strategy at the NSW Centre for Volunteering, a meta-study published in the British Medical Journal in 2008 concluded that “volunteering has a salubrious effect on volunteers, including a decrease in depression, stress and hospitalisation. Volunteers have better health, are more fit and resilient and live longer lives than those who don’t.”

Volunteering offers a chance to support a cause you feel strongly about, make a difference to the lives of others, develop new skills, build confidence and take a break from an internal work environment.

It also helps the economy. According to Jacquelyn Hole, volunteering is more valuable to the Australian economy than mining or tourism. In 2016, nearly 44 per cent of Australians did volunteer work, averaging 2.5 hours a week.

Employers have also recognised the benefits of service. Many Australian companies and firms now actively encourage and support opportunities for staff, including nominating time out of the office for volunteer work as part of employee benefits packages.

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