Volunteering Guidelines

Your Rights and Responsibilities

We know that by volunteering you are generously donating your time, skills and efforts. But a volunteer environment is still a workplace, and as such, you have certain responsibilities that must be upheld. And of course, you have rights as well!

The following list is the basis of your rights as a volunteer

You have the right:

  • To work in a healthy and safe environment (refer to your State's Work Health and Safety Act[s]);
  • To be interviewed and employed in accordance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation;
  • To be adequately covered by insurance;
  • To be given accurate and truthful information about the organisation for which you are working;
  • To be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the organisation for which you are working;
  • To be given a copy of the organisation's volunteer policy and any other policy that affects your work;
  • Not to fill a position previously held by a paid worker;
  • Not to do the work of paid staff during industrial disputes;
  • To have a job description and agreed working hours;
  • To have access to a grievance procedure;
  • To be provided with orientation to the organisation;
  • To have your confidential and personal information dealt with in accordance with the principles of the Privacy Act 1988; and
  • To be provided with sufficient training to do your job.

 Before you start, you should check that:

  • The organisation is a legitimate volunteer involving organisation*
  • The purpose of the organisation matches your own values and beliefs
  • The organisation carriespublic liability and volunteer personal accident insurance
  • Your role is clear and specific
  • The organisation can provide you with written information about its purpose and activities
  • You are satisfied that the funds of the organisation are expended in accordance with its mission.

So now that we have covered your rights, here are your responsibilities

All volunteers are expected to:

  • Respect confidentiality and privacy
  • Be punctual and reliable
  • Carry out the duties listed in your volunteer position description
  • Be accountable
  • Give notice if your availability changes or you are leaving the organisation
  • Report any injuries or hazards that you notice in the workplace
  • Adhere to the organisation's policies and procedures
  • Deal with complaints in the appropriate manner
  • Undertake training as requested
  • Ask for support when needed
  • Support other team members

Source: Volunteer Rights & Volunteer Checklist Information Sheet, Volunteering Australia
* amended from original source document

If you are currently in receipt of a Centrelink benefit/allowance you should be aware of some guidelines in relation to volunteering.

Please feel free to browse this site to get an idea for the kinds of voluntary positions that are available, however it is suggested that you do not apply for voluntary positions on-line through this site.

It is important that you contact your Centrelink Officer to determine your eligibility for the Centrelink programs and to check their approved list of organisations.

Voluntary work definition

Voluntary work activity is an activity undertaken in an approved not-for-profit community organisation in a verified voluntary work position. 

JSA providers must ensure a voluntary work placement:

  • benefits the job seeker and the community and offers no financial gain to the work experience host organisation,
  • provides the job seeker with the opportunity to gain skills which will directly improve the job seeker's employment prospects,
  • provides opportunities which will develop or enhance a job seeker's ability to work as part of a team, take directions from a supervisor, work independently, communicate effectively and improve motivation and dependability, and
  • should not exceed 26 weeks duration, unless it is the best participation option in the circumstances, as determined by the JSA provider.  

Regardless of the circumstances in which it is undertaken voluntary work must:

  • occur without payment other than for out of pocket expenses, and
  • have a community focus, and
  • not be undertaken in the job seeker's own home, and
  • not primarily promote a particular religious or political view, and
  • not involve working for the job seeker's or a family member of the job seeker's own organisation, and
  • not involve violence towards people or damage to property, and
  • not undertake tasks which would normally be done by a paid employee, including a casual or part-time paid employee, and
  • not reduce hours usually worked by a paid employee or reduce customary overtime of an existing worker.

Approval of voluntary work

Where activity tests requirements are met through voluntary work:

  • Centrelink can give approval to the job seeker for the voluntary work, AND
  • Centrelink must formally approve the organisation for which the work is undertaken. 

As part of the organisation approval process, Centrelink ensures that community organisations are:

  • 'not for profit' organisations,
  • community based,
  • adequately insured.

The information above is adapted from FaHCSIA's Guide to Social Security Law, Version 1.190 - Released 20 September 2012 (Section Suitable Activity - Voluntary Work).

For more information please refer to the full version of the Guide or speak directly to Centrelink.