Wellbeing Project

The Wellbeing Project – gaining a deeper understanding of the benefits of DRA’s volunteering program on the wellbeing of our members and enhancing the volunteer experience. 

Does volunteering make you happier

and improve your wellbeing?

Members of Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) tell us it does, and we want to understand this more.  

Members of Disaster Relief Australia (DRA) feel that helping others through volunteering gives them a sense of purpose, and in some cases, it has literally saved their lives. It’s not the reason why they volunteer, but they know that somehow, they’re better for it. According to Joep van Agteren, Lead Researcher of DRA’s Wellbeing Project, this ‘feel good’ factor is backed by research which shows that: 

“Happier people volunteer more and people who volunteer more are happier”  

Volunteering helps volunteers

Disaster Relief Australia knows our volunteering program helps people and saves lives and we want to verify this through the “Wellbeing Pulse Check”.  This will help us to:

Improve our volunteer program

a. Through data collection and subsequent high-level analysis of the volunteering program over a 12-month period.​

b. High-level data analysis of the program will identify:​

  • Any areas where additional support is required.​
  • Positive elements to reinforce.​
Make the experience better for our volunteers
  • Implementation of recommendations that will impact members  and their experience on a personal level.​
Support the growth of our Tribe
The Wellbeing Project will provide scientific rigor to validate the benefits of DRA’s volunteering program and will strengthen our ability to support more veterans and communities in their time of need, within a supportive culture that enables us to best act in service to each other and communities in need. ​

What is the Wellbeing Project? 

Through the Wellbeing Project, DRA seeks to validate the benefits of its volunteering program and identify opportunities for improvement. The project includes surveys and informal interviews to be completed by members at key touchpoints including onboarding, training, deployment and routinely over a 12-month period.  

What will happen to the surveys?  

Our research partner, the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) will collate the information from the surveys to formally assess DRA’s volunteering program to determine the benefits of the program and identify opportunities for improvement.  

How long will it take?  

The Wellbeing Project is taking place over two and a half years from December 2021 to May 2024.  

Where is the funding coming from?  

Funding for the project has been secured through our funding partner Movember; a charity organisation focused on men’s health issues. For the rigidity of validating and improving DRA’s program (for all volunteers), both men and women will be included in the Wellbeing Project 

Why is the Wellbeing Project being conducted?  

DRA hears from our members that volunteering with DRA has significant and long-lasting benefits on their wellbeing. We want to understand this more and, through the Wellbeing Project, DRA aims to gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of our volunteering program on the wellbeing of our members. The project also aims to identify opportunities to improve the volunteering program in order to enhance the volunteering experience. 

How will we do it?

DRA has partnered with Movember (who have funded the project) and SAHMRI (South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute) to allow us to assess our volunteering program through a Wellbeing Pulse Check, consisting of online surveys and informal interviews at regular intervals over a 12-month period.

The Wellbeing Pulse Check consist of 3 main components

1. Wellbeing Snapshot Surveys – completed at the time of deployments and specific training events.

2. Wellbeing Long-Term Surveys – commencing in August 2022, surveys will be sent to members to be completed every 3 months, over a 12-month period. 

3. Face-to-face Interviews and Focus Groups – in-person interviews and focus groups will be held from May 2023.  

The Wellbeing Project will be underpinned by DRA’s core values of courage, mateship, endurance, service, tenacity and respect to ensure the integrity of the organisation and project are represented at every opportunity with project stakeholders. 

For more information, please contact Cindy Wadsworth, the Project Manager for the Wellbeing Project at cindy.wadsworth@disasterreliefaus.org.


Why is DRA doing an assessment of its volunteering program?
DRA receives a lot of feedback from volunteers to show that participating in our volunteering program is beneficial for volunteer wellbeing. We want to understand that more so we’re partnering with Movember (our funding partner) and SAHMRI (our research partner) to take further steps to better understand the benefits our volunteers get from participating in our volunteering program, so we can support future growth of our tribe and improve the program where needed.
Do all volunteers have to participate?
No. Participation in the assessment of our volunteering program is optional.
How will the volunteering program be assessed?
The volunteering program will be assessed through our Wellbeing Pulse Check which consists of three main components being:

1. Wellbeing Snapshot Surveys

2. Wellbeing Long-Term Surveys

3. Wellbeing Chat Sessions (informal interviews)

SAHMRI will use standardised and substantiated questions, that have been used in a number of Australian wellbeing studies, as the basis for the assessment of DRA’s volunteering program.

I’ve still got more questions – who do I talk to?
If you have further questions, please contact Cindy via email at cindy.wadsworth@disasterreliefaus.org.