Research and Innovation

Volunteering WA supports innovation in knowledge and practice in Western Australian volunteering through research:

  • Utilising the expertise and experience of the Research Committee
  • Providing in-kind or financial support for selected research projects
  • Promoting networking amongst researchers interested in volunteering
  • Promoting opportunities for researchers and practitioners to connect
  • Communicating relevant research findings that impact on volunteering
Research and innovation graphic wheel

Research Committee

The Research Committee is an advisory committee to the CEO and Senior Management of Volunteering WA and reports to the Board of Volunteering WA, through the CEO.

The Research Committee includes researchers from the major universities in WA and representatives from the Department for Communities and Volunteering WA. It meets quarterly as a Committee and hosts research related events and networking sessions.

Dr Darja Kragt

Dr Darja Kragt is a Lecturer in Work Psychology at the University of Western Australia School of Psychological Science. Her research is focused in investigating the role of identity in leadership and leadership development and has been published in several high quality, peer-reviewed journals. Darja is passionate about teaching others how to become better leaders and has facilitated many leadership development workshops and programs for professionals, MBAs and executives. Her other research interests include identity processes in retirement transition and volunteering with emergency services. Before coming to Australia, Darja worked and researched at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Associate Professor Patrick Dunlop

Associate Professor Patrick Dunlop will join the Future of Work Institute at Curtin University in January 2019. His research investigates personality and individual differences in the work and volunteering context, particularly how they relate to personnel recruitment, selection, and socialisation. His research informs practices to improve recruitment, selection, and socialisation outcomes across work and volunteer settings, and on how work influences the development of our personality through adulthood.

Dr Megan Paull

Dr Megan Paull is the Senior Lecturer in Management, Director of Postgraduate Research and Co-Director of the Centre for Responsible Citizenship and Sustainability, at the School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University. Megan joined Murdoch University in 2009. Her research interests are in the areas of volunteering and non-profit organisations; bullying and organisational behaviour, and learning and teaching in higher education. Megan teaches in the areas of non-profit management, human resource management, business research methods, organisational behaviour and management. Megan is a Director of Volunteering WA and Volunteering Australia. 

Professor Kirsten Holmes

Professor Kirsten Holmes is with the School of Marketing at Curtin University. Kirsten has been researching the topic of volunteerism for over 20 years. She has particular expertise in forms of volunteering relating to events, leisure, museums, sport and tourism. She has investigated volunteering and volunteer management in Australia, the UK and internationally, with a particular focus on student volunteers. She has published over 60 peer reviewed papers in leading journals. Kirsten is regularly invited to work with industry and government, particularly the not-for-profit sector. 

Associate Professor Judy MacCallum

Associate Professor Judy MacCallum is with the School of Education, at Murdoch University. Judy began her career in 1993. Judy has held numerous academic leadership positions in the School of Education including responsibility for leading the consultancy and applied research of the School and as Dean of Education. Judy’s teaching and research focus on social and cognitive interaction for learning and development, and ways to create effective learning environments in a range of educational and community contexts. Key areas of interest revolve around collaborative learning and teaching, professional learning, motivational change, intergenerational exchange and mentoring.

Dr Peter Devereux

Dr Peter Devereux is Adjunct Research Fellow at Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute and lectures in the Sustainable Development Goals Masters Unit. He is also Honorary Research Associate at Murdoch University. Peter has focused on volunteering for development and sustainability policy, research and practice for 30 years and published and presented extensively in this area. Previously he worked on Volunteering and SDGs research in Myanmar; UN Volunteers HQ; Murdoch University School of Sustainability; as environmental adviser in Nicaragua, UN volunteer in Fiji, and Australian Volunteers International Perth office manager.

Associate Professor Janice Redmund

Janice Redmund is an Associate Professor in the School of Business and Law at Edith Cowan University. She has a significant background in the government and education sectors including working in the area of Human Resource Management. Janice is currently involved in a number of collaborative projects including small business owners’ preparation for retirement; enterprise sustainability; discretionary work effort and informal training and learning in small business.

Research News

Volunteering WA produces a Research Digest which brings together news of current and recent research publications, reports and projects relevant to Western Australian volunteering, from WA, National and International sources.

The Research Digest newsletter is published twice a year and distributed to members of Volunteering WA, and the WA Research Network.

Research Resources

  • Research Checklist - to support VIOs that are considering whether to contribute to a research project, or undertake research with an academic or industry research partner.

Research Projects

Volunteering WA encourages and supports research into volunteering related issues to help inform evidence-based decision-making and good practice in the volunteer sector.

Volunteering WA will consider requests for collaboration and in-kind support for research projects. Proposals will be reviewed by the Research Committee using established criteria. Please contact us for an initial discussion.

Research projects supported by Volunteering WA:

WA’s State of Volunteering Report 2023

Volunteering WA, with financial support from the Australian Department of Social Services and WA Department of Communities, is developing a State Of Volunteering Report.  

It will provide information to answer four main questions from our unique, Western Australian, perspective:  

  1. Looking back, what has been our recent experience with volunteering? 
  2. What is our experience of volunteering today? 
  3. What is the economic value of volunteering in WA today? 
  4. Looking forward, what is the outlook for the sector?  

The work is an independent report led by Volunteering WA and based on work commissioned from the Institute of Project Management and Curtin University. The work by Curtin University draws from work completed by Volunteering Australia as part of the development of the National Strategy for Volunteering. Highlights from the report will be released at our State Conference in November 2023, with a full report to follow.

Managing Volunteers in Dementia Care: A Pilot Project

While volunteers are a known resource within a healthcare setting, there is limited understanding of what good dementia care volunteering management practice looks like. This study will develop an understanding of the aspects of volunteer management that are likely to lead to better volunteer and client wellbeing outcomes, with the aim to inform a proposal for a wider research project funding application. Focusing on non-hospital settings, the proposed project seeks to examine how volunteer management practices influence volunteer and client experiences and wellbeing outcomes. It also seeks to map out the linkages between policy (at government and organisational levels), management practices (including in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACF), Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) and social/recreational settings and outcomes, to develop an application for funding of a larger research project.

Lead Investigator: Dr Megan Paull
Co-Investigators: Dr Andrea Steele; Dr Ana Rita Sequeira; Dr Ingrid O’Brien; Dr Anne Peachey Mentor: Associate Professor Hamid Sohrabi, Centre for Healthy Ageing

Driving volunteer engagement and building parent participation in P&Cs across WA

Funded through Volunteering WA's annual volunteer grant program with the support of the Volunteering WA Research Committee.

Volunteering WA congratulates the WA Council of State School Organisations Inc. (WACSSO) as the recipient of the 2022-23 Research Grant Program. Their project will examine the question of “Volunteer Engagement – Building Parent Participation in P&Cs across WA”. 

Western Australian Council of State School Organisations (WACSSO) is the peak body representing parents of public school students in WA. They provide representation at state and national levels and guidance and support to over 650 Parent and Citizen Associations (P&Cs).

In 2021 P&Cs in WA provided over $17 million to school communities. Recruiting parent volunteers is an ongoing challenge due to natural turnover as children progress in their schooling, and made more difficult by COVID-19.

This project will seek to answer 3 questions:

1. What works and does not work to recruit and retain parent volunteers to P&Cs across WA?
2. What can be done to increase participation in P&C activities?
3. How can P&Cs support the participation and inclusion of a more diverse range of parents?

The WACSSO will work in partnership with Murdoch University to deliver the project, under the leadership of Dr Kath Sugars.

Research team:
Dr Kath Sugars, Early Career Researcher, Murdoch University
Dr Megan Paull, Senior Lecturer, Murdoch University

The project is expected to be completed by March 2024.

Developing a National Rural Volunteering Roadmap (2021 to 2025)

Volunteering WA is pleased to be a partner in this Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage project which aims to investigate the challenges affecting rural volunteering in Australia.

Conducting a national analysis of volunteering demand and supply, this project expects to generate new interdisciplinary knowledge of the structural, demographic, organisational and personal factors affecting the sustainability of rural volunteering.

Expected outcomes of this project include a world-first index of volunteering vulnerabilities and a spatial map of volunteering unevenness, leading to the development of an evidence-based National Rural Volunteering Roadmap (2025-2035). The Roadmap will support volunteering peak body partners, governments and rural communities to plan for and support rural volunteering over the longer-term.

Volunteering WA aims to build stronger and more connected communities through volunteering and provides a range of resources, services, programs and support so that the people of Western Australia are made aware of, and understand, the nature, value and scope of volunteering activity in the State.

We will support the project through contributions of staff time, participation as experts and in focus groups, the provision of available data, facilitating linkages to VIOs and networks, and work to co-create the Roadmap document.

The project will run from 2021 to 2025 and more information on opportunities to be involved will be promoted to our members and the community. To register your interest in receiving updates on this project, please email us at

Project Team
• Project Lead - Associate Professor Leonie Lockstone-Binney, Griffith University
• Professor Kirsten Holmes, Curtin University
• Professor Amanda Davies, University of Western Australia
• Professor Melanie Oppenheimer, Australian National University
• PhD student, Griffith University – to be appointed
• Research Associates, Grifftith University, Curtin University, UWA, ANU – to be appointed

Partner Organisations
• Volunteering Western Australia
• Volunteering Queensland
• Volunteering Victoria
• Volunteering SA&NT
• Volunteering Australia

University students’ experiences of volunteering to support older adults in hospital during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative case study

Funded through Volunteering WA's annual volunteer grant program with the support of the Volunteering WA Research Committee.

Lead researcher: Dr Olivia Gallagher, Edith Cowan University

Since March 2021, 39 nursing, medicine, paramedicine and psychology students from Western Australian universities have been recruited to a trial of nurse-led volunteer support for hospitalised older adult patients over 65 years at a large public/private health service provider in Perth. The volunteers have been trained to provide individualised support for older adults, following a care plan developed by an Older Adult Clinical Nurse based on patient admission assessments.

A qualitative case study approach will be taken to address the objectives of the study:

  1. Describe the motivation and perceptions of the student volunteers and the link to learning and future practice.
  2. Explore the experiences of students volunteering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Explore the barriers and facilitators to volunteering among healthcare students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Research team

  • Dr Olivia Gallagher, Associate Dean (Clinical), Edith Cowan University
  • Associate Professor Rosemary Saunders, (School of Nursing & Midwifery), Edith Cowan University
  • Dr Eunjung Kim, Lecturer, School of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University
  • Dr Seng Giap Marcus Ang, Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Edith Cowan University
  • Kate Crookes, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Edith Cowan University
  • Rhea Rodriguez Tecson, Clinic Nurse / Nurse Research Assistant, Edith Cowan University
  • Professor Caroline Bulsara, Postgraduate Research Coordinator, University of Notre Dame Australia
  • Professor, Christopher Etherton-Beer, University of Western Australia

The project is expected to be completed by December 2022.

Impact of COVID-19 on University Students’ Volunteering – Emerging Trends and Way Forward

Funded through Volunteering WA's annual volunteer grant program with the support of the Volunteering WA Research Committee.

Lead researcher: Dr Fazlul Rabbanee, Curtin University

The COVID-19 pandemic had an adverse impact on all volunteering activities in Australia, particularly as traditional in-person volunteering was severely curtailed due to lockdowns, social isolation, and physical distancing requirements. Due to a dearth of existing research on how and to what extent the COVID-19 pandemic impacted university student volunteering, this research addresses four key objectives: (i) identifying the challenges experienced by university student volunteers due to COVID-19, (ii) examining the impact of the pandemic on university student volunteers' wellbeing and resilience influencing their future intention to volunteer, (iii) exploring the emerging trends of university students' volunteering in WA, and (iv) identifying the influence of COVID-19 on virtual and informal volunteering among university students in WA

Read the University Students' Volunteering During the COVID-19 Pandemic Report, Published April 2023

Volunteering in Aged Care Settings in the time of COVID and beyond (2021)

Volunteering WA has released the final report on Volunteering in Aged Care Settings in Western Australia – Good Practice During COVID-19 and Beyond, authored by Dr Megan Paull and Dr Sally Paulin, Murdoch Business School + Centre for Healthy Ageing.

The project was funded by a Lotterywest grant to Volunteering WA and supplemented by contributions from Volunteering WA and Murdoch University.

The project was designed to facilitate knowledge sharing from those actively involved in volunteering and volunteer management in aged care settings in WA during this COVID-19 period, with a particular focus on residential aged care and the Community Visitors Scheme.

The full report, summary report and seven Good Practice Guides for specific users are available here.

The Jacaranda Project (2019)

The Jacaranda Project was a pilot which looked at volunteering in aged care settings. It was supported by Volunteering WA and stakeholders representing a group of Aged Care Providers. Interviews were carried out with volunteer managers and volunteers. The findings from the project were presented and discussed by the research team from Murdoch University to volunteer managers in the aged care sector in June 2019. The findings included the importance of good relationships between staff and volunteers and a sense of ownership of their role amongst volunteers surveyed. The final report is available here. Contact Dr Megan Paull, Murdoch University for more information.

The Social and Economic Sustainability of WA’s Rural Volunteer Workforce (Completed 2019)

Volunteering is critical to the survival and success of rural communities in WA. The past two decades have seen an increase in the community services delivered by volunteers and demand on the volunteer workforce has intensified. Yet, over the same period there has been a decline in volunteer participation across Australia resulting in a shortage of volunteer labour. This study uses case studies of three rural communities in WA to investigate the role of volunteering in creating a sense of community wellbeing and delivering essential services in rural areas, and identifies the strategies volunteers and voluntary organisations are using to sustain the rural volunteer workforce. Contact Professor Kirsten Holmes, Curtin University for further information. The final report is available to download (PDF). This project was funded by the Curtin Bankwest Economics Centre.

Creating and Sustaining a Strong Future for Volunteering in Australia (Completed 2018)

This project sought to answer the question of how to increase social participation by converting non-volunteers to the benefits of volunteering. A world first, this project created new theory by examining three levels of analysis: the micro level of the individual volunteer or non-volunteer; the mezzo level of the volunteer-involving organisation; and the macro level of society. This innovative approach led to the development of two tools: the convertibility tool that calculates an individual’s likelihood of volunteering; and the recruit ability tool that provides a self-diagnostic instrument for volunteer-involving organisations to review their volunteer program and change their strategy. Contact Professor Kirsten Holmes, Curtin University for further information. Tools developed during the project – and other outputs - are freely available for volunteer-involving organisations on the project website. The project was funded by the Australian Research Council, with contributions from Volunteering WA, the WA Department for Communities, Volunteering Victoria and Volunteering SA & NT.

WA Volunteering Research Network

The Research Committee supports a growing community of WA researchers with an interest in volunteering as a field of research. The Committee encourages networking amongst researchers at all stages of their career, to share their work, develop connections, and find potential collaborations. To join the network please complete this form:

Research Events

The Research Committee in conjunction with Volunteering WA organises networking and information sharing events for researchers, volunteer management practitioners and others interested in research. View upcoming research events