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The laws surrounding volunteering can be complex, yet volunteers are an important resource to many, if not most, community organisations.
Volunteer involving organisations can ensure their relationship with volunteers is meaningful, and managed respectfully and safely, by understanding the legal issues relating to the engagement and management of volunteers. This section of the website aims to strengthen this understanding.
National Volunteer Guide
Your organisation owes its volunteers certain legal obligations and these are sometimes hard to work out.
Not-for-profit Law has produced a National Volunteer Guide for use by volunteer involving organisations across Australia. It provides an overview of the key legal obligations organisations owe volunteers and provides practical examples, template documents and tips to assist in their understanding.
The Guide is divided into six parts and covers the following key issues:
- Glossary of common terms and overview (Part 1)
- Understanding the legal differences between a volunteer, employee and independent contractor (Part 2)
- Understanding your organisation's legal obligations in relation to the safety of its volunteers (Part 3)
- Protecting volunteers and other people your volunteers are interacting with from unlawful workplace behaviour (Part 4)
- Recruiting, inducting, managing performance and ending the volunteer relationship (Part 5), and
- Organisational issues applicable to volunteers (Part 6).
Download the full guide below:
Or download the guide in parts:
National Volunteer Webinars
Not-for-profit Law has produced a series of webinars to complement the National Volunteer Guide.
The webinars help organisations distinguish between volunteers and other workers, learn about volunteers versus unpaid workers, and understand key legal issues to be aware of in relation to youth volunteers. Click on the relevant images below to access the free webinars:
We thank the Australian Government, Department of Social Services, for their financial contribution towards the development of this National Volunteer Guide and Webinars.
Managing Volunteers video
Our Managing Volunteers video below provides a useful overview of some of the legal issues that your organisation might need to consider.
Peak volunteering organisations
Peak organisations have information on volunteer issues more generally:
- Volunteering Australia
- Centre for Volunteering (NSW)
- Volunteering Victoria
- Volunteering Queensland
- Volunteering WA
- Volunteering SA & NT
- Volunteering Tasmania
- Volunteering ACT
Volunteering matching organisations
It may be helpful for your organisation to look for someone by contacting the various volunteer brokers and support organisations. You can also advertise online or in your local paper. Organisations who can help include:
- Volunteering Australia: www.govolunteer.com.au and www.volunteeringaustralia.org
- Goodcompany, which fosters corporate and skilled volunteering
- Vollie, online resource that links non-profit organisations to willing individuals who wish to engage in remote, skill-based volunteering
- Creative Partnerships Australia, for arts organisations
- Pro Bono Australia's volunteer advertising and matching service
- Seek Volunteering lists volunteering opportunities including in an emergency
- OurCommunity has resources, particularly on corporate volunteering
- Volunteering SA&NT has a volunteering matching service called Volunteering ASSIST
- Centre for Volunteering (NSW focused)
- Leadership Victoria, which now includes the GreatConnections program
- Regional groups, such as Volunteering Geelong, Leadership Ballarat and Western Region, Hunter Volunteer Centre and Gladstone Region Volunteering
- Local Councils also often have volunteer matching services
Make an enquiry
Our lawyers are experts in the law and volunteers. Your organisation may be eligible for our free legal advice service. To find out, please complete the online enquiry form below. Using the online form is the quickest and easiest way for us to deal with your enquiry and means that we can respond to you sooner (usually within 48 business hours) and let you know how we might be able to assist. Find out more information about eligibility on our Legal Advice page.