The value of volunteers in State Emergency Services

Gaminda Ganewatta, John Handmer

Peer-reviewed Article


Archived Article


This paper presents estimates of the economic value of volunteers in the State Emergency Services (SES) of NSW, Victoria and South Australia. The value is based on the value of the time provided by volunteers. The estimates are based on a detailed survey conducted on volunteer time allocation, and data on the activities of SES volunteers over several years in NSW, Victoria and South Australia. We used two methods for valuing time: the “global substitution” method where an average wage rate is used to value all activities, and the “task specific substitution” method where each task is valued at its market wage rate. The value of volunteer time given for community services, operational response, training and unit management averaged around $ 52, 19 and 12 million a year in NSW, Victoria and South Australia respectively. We also extended the analysis by counting the standby time of volunteers to present complete picture of the value of time volunteers contributed to the State Emergency Services. The addition of standby time greatly increases the value of the time provided.