Giving good for the health

PEOPLE who give back to the community through volunteering live longer and are healthier and happier, according to a visiting international expert in Sydney for the 2013 Corporate Volunteering Forum.

"It's good to be good and science says it's so," is the message from Professor Stephen G Post, a US-based philosopher, professor of preventive medicine and best-selling author on the benefits of giving and volunteering.

Professor Post addressed about 50 of Australia's leading businesses and organisations at a forum, organised by the NSW government's Office of Communities and hosted by the Commonwealth Bank.

The Minister for Citizenship and Communities Victor Dominello, who has responsibility for volunteering, will open the forum. He agrees volunteering is far more than just a 'feel-good' exercise.

"Professor Post has conducted extensive analysis of the scientific research on volunteering and giving and is among the most highly respected speakers in this field internationally," Mr Dominello said.

"His findings - that giving back to society can lead to happier, healthier, and longer lives - demonstrate that volunteering has a tremendous ripple effect leading to many positive outcomes for the individuals who engage in it.

Mr Dominello said the government was committed to boosting the number of people who volunteered and increasing the value the community placed on their contributions.

He said promoting corporate volunteering was one of the elements of its volunteering strategy - the first by a government in Australia - launched in May 2012.

"We developed the strategy because the NSW government values the two million volunteers in NSW who contribute more than 240 million hours of voluntary work each year, estimated to be worth $5 billion to our economy," he said.

"Volunteering also has a serious impact on the community's triple bottom line, with clear benefits for the economy, society and the environment."

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