Place Co-Lab Partner logos-Sunshine Coast Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Project Overview

As residents of the Sunshine Coast, we often do more, whether informal and a little, or planned and routine, to be a part of how we participate and contribute to the place and the communities in which we live. Traditional volunteering is declining and through this survey we sought to understand the reasons and as a community, how we can re-think volunteering.

Grounded in a community-based context, this project piloted the Sunshine Coast Community Co-Lab model. This model brought together community members, staff and students from the University of the Sunshine Coast (UniSC) and council and combined local knowledge and skills to problem solve and co-create solutions to make places more inclusive, sustainable and liveable.

Community engagement

Between October 2022 and January 2023, council and UniSC delivered a community engagement program to understand the state of volunteering on the Sunshine Coast. The engagement program findings will be used to inform a publicly available volunteer resource and the development and publication of research articles. These are currently under-development and are anticipated to be delivered by mid-2023.

The community engagement program included:

  • Community Survey (open from 18 October to 28 January 2023)
  • Public Seminar (held on 27 October 2022)
  • Young people focus groups (hosted between October and November 2022)
  • Community Forum (held on 7 December 2022)

Summary of findings

The key findings from the Building Community: Gifting Time project has been separated into face-to-face engagement activities and the online community survey. This is due to the two engagement methods having variations in their lines of inquiry and the subsequent data collected. Despite the differences in the engagement methods, there are some similar themes emerging from both engagement methods, such as volunteering being a vehicle for social connection and some of the barriers that currently exist in the volunteering sector.

Summary of Findings - face to face engagement activities

Across all face-to-face activities, the key themes that emerged include:

Summary of findings - online survey

The key themes emerging from the online survey include:

Next Steps

The information collected through survey will be used by UniSC to produce research publications into volunteering on the Sunshine Coast.

In mid 2023, council released a Volunteering Resource based on the feedback received and ideas generated at the forum.

Community Survey

Survey closed 29 November 2022

Please read the following information before completing the survey:

University of the Sunshine Coast ethics approval number - A221791


This survey will take about twenty minutes to complete. You will be asked the following types of questions:

  • How do you connect with the people and places in the Sunshine Coast?
  • Do you currently participate in formal or inform volunteering?
  • Identifying your social capital, motivations and attitudes and feelings towards volunteering.
  • Demographics.

Consent to participate will be confirmed before progressing to the survey. Consent is for the use of your data and information in a non-identifiable format in this and future related research.

Risks and Benefits

There are no anticipated risks in this project, yet there is the potential that some participants may reflect on the qualities of your community. This will be managed via ensuring that your responses are completely voluntary, anonymous and that you may stop the survey at any time without any implications.

Furthermore, if you would like a copy of the final report to consider broader community responses and insights, please use the project contact details below.

Privacy, Confidentiality and Results

Any data collected as a part of this research project will be stored via UniSC’s Qualtrics Survey platform, and will be non-identifiable format survey responses. All comments and responses will be treated confidentially unless otherwise required by law. If you would like a summary of findings of this research project, please contact the research team.

Concerns and Complaints

If you have any concerns or complaints about the way this research project is being conducted you can raise them with the research team:

Research Team Contact Details

Gerard Jefferies

University of the Sunshine Coast

Telephone: (07) 5456 5891


If you prefer an independent person, please contact:

The Chairperson

Human Research Ethics Committee

c/o: Office of Research

University of the Sunshine Coast, Maroochydore DC 4558

Telephone: (07) 5430 2823


Photo of two SES volunteers



The Sunshine Coast Community Co-Lab model furthers the collaborative Regional Partnership Agreement between council and UniSC, from research and planning to action and implementation, through a model of Excellence in Engagement. It provides an opportunity for:

  • The Sunshine Coast community to grow social capital and capacity and develop collaborative responses to address local challenges and opportunities
  • UniSC students to engage in a process of work integrated learning that enables action, evaluation, and reflection for heightened professional development
  • UniSC to facilitate action research learning for students; deliver research publications related to the pilot project and evaluate the process and outcomes
  • Council to collaborate in the delivery of its strategic priorities and to facilitate innovation through participatory engagement and transfer of knowledge and shared leadership; and
  • Establishing an evidenced based, and best practice research approach to the collection of local community insights and data.

Volunteering Australia Discovery Insights Report 2022 – Key insights

A national survey of 6000 people conducted by the Western Sydney University found:

Volunteering Sunshine Coast Video

a photo of two volunteers of Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve