The experience of volunteers during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic
Australia and the world are currently experiencing a public health and economic shock that may end up being larger than any experienced since the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 and the Great Depression of the 1930s respectively. The spread of the Coronavirus and associated disease (COVID-19) around the world including to Australia has led to the shutdown of travel and Australia’s borders, much of Australia’s commercial and industrial activity, and many social services, some public institutions (e.g., art galleries, libraries), schools and universities and has resulted in a dramatic decline in economic activity.
While much of the focus has been on the economic impacts, particularly the impacts on paid employment and income, there has been much less attention given to the impacts on unpaid activities, such as voluntary work. Volunteering is also likely to be impacted though, as physical distancing measures make some forms of volunteering difficult or impossible to continue to undertake (especially amongst those for whom COVID-19 is particularly risky). At the same time, the economic downturn and increased social isolation being experienced by many is likely to increase the demand for certain forms of volunteering.