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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 App
Not-for-profit Law has developed a Working with Volunteers app to complement the National Volunteer Guide and the National Volunteer Webinars.
This tool will help volunteer involving organisations understand the key legal obligations that not-for-profit organisations have towards volunteers. The key topics include recruitment, safety, unlawful workplace behaviour, managing performance and ending the volunteer relationship.
After completing a series of questions, your organisation will be provided with an opportunity to print a report containing an overview of the legal issues, recommendations and links for further information all based on your answers. Click the button below to launch the app, and please tell us what you think!
Recruiting Volunteers e-Learning Module
This e-learning module covers the legal obligations involved in the process of recruiting volunteers. It includes interactive activites, instructional videos and realistic scenarios to help you recruit volunteers fairly and safely, while maintaining a high quality service and upholding your legal and ethical obligations. This module will empower your organisation to preprare to recruit volunteers, undertake screening and ensure fair and non-discriminatory selection processes. This comprehensive but succint course can be accessed on your phone, tablet or computer via the link below.
National Volunteer Guide
Your organisation owes its volunteers certain legal obligations and these are sometimes hard to work out.
We have 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 available for download below, and you can also download the templates contained within the guide as Word documents.
The Guide is divided into six parts and covers the following key issues:
- Glossary of common terms and overview
- Understanding the legal differences between a volunteer, employee and independent contractor
- Understanding your organisation's legal obligations in relation to the safety of its volunteers
- Protecting volunteers and other people your volunteers are interacting with from unlawful workplace behaviour
- Recruiting, inducting, managing performance and ending the volunteer relationship, and
- Organisational issues applicable to volunteers.
Download the full guide below (and tell us what you think, please!)
Download the guide in parts:
The fact sheet below provides an overview of the legal issues you need to consider when engaging volunteers who are under 18-years-old. This fact sheet covers:
- what’s different about youth volunteers?
- engaging youth volunteers, including inducting and training on workplace safety and behaviour
- managing youth volunteers, including minimum working conditions
- protecting youth volunteers, including mandatory reporting obligations and screening checks, and
- insurance considerations
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. Your feedback is valuable to us, so please tell us what you think.
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
- Volunteer Central (Vic) has a volunteer matching service
- 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.