Volunteering is worth more than $200 billion a year to the Australian economy, outstripping revenue sources from mining, agriculture and the retail sector.
But Dr Lisel O'Dwyer who calculated the latest figures, warned that a focus on the economic value of volunteering can be dangerous, and does not show the whole picture.
“If a volunteer fire fighter saves the life of a child, what is that worth? If environmental degradation is slowed because of millions of trees planted by volunteer conservationists, what is that worth? And if an elderly person receives a hot meal five days a week, what is that worth?” she said.
More than 6.4 million people volunteer their time in Australia. The number of volunteers in Australia has doubled since 1995.