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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.
The volunteer resources we have developed are set out on this page:
- National volunteer app
- Recruiting volunteers e-module
- National volunteers guide with template volunteer agreement and deed of agreement
- Youth volunteers fact sheet
- Volunteer webinars
- Managing volunteers video
You can find our resources on managing volunteers through COVID-19 here.
Volunteer organisations have also developed the following COVID-19 resources:
- Volunteering Australia’s position papers on volunteering and COVID-19, COVID-19 information for volunteers and COVID-19 information for volunteer involving organisations
- Volunteering WA’s COVID-19 fact sheets for volunteers and organisations
- Volunteering Victoria’s COVID-19 resources
- Volunteering Queensland's COVID-19 resources for volunteers and organisations
- Volunteering SA and NT’s COVID-19 resources for volunteers and organisations and information sheets
- Volunteering Tasmania’s COVID-19 information and resources
- Volunteering ACT’s COVID-19 information
- The Centre for Volunteering’s COVID-19 information sheets on engaging volunteers during COVID-19, general advice on protecting staff, volunteers and others, ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19, advice for volunteers and how to minimise impacts on core business activities
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!
This e-learning module covers the legal obligations involved in the process of recruiting volunteers. It includes interactive activities, 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 prepare to recruit volunteers, undertake screening and ensure fair and non-discriminatory selection processes. This comprehensive but succinct course can be accessed on your phone, tablet or computer via the link below.
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.
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:
Download a sample Volunteer Agreement or Deed of Agreement:
The sample agreement and deed of agreement are included in part 5 of our National Volunteer Guide. We recommend you refer to part 5 of the guide for more information about preparing a volunteer agreement or a deed
You can access these sample agreements in Word form by completing the webform at the bottom of this page or by following this link.
Free Webinar: Drafting a great volunteer agreement
As part of National Volunteer Week 2020, we offered the following free webinar on volunteer agreements. We discussed top drafting tips and some key clauses you should be thinking about.
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
An annexure to the fact sheet summarises state and territory laws on working conditions for youth volunteers and mandatory reporting.
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.
Our National Volunteer Guide is a comprehensive guide for volunteer involving organisations across Australia. The Guide includes a range of resources for use in all stages of the volunteer relationship.
View the full Guide in PDF form above, or fill out the form below to access Word documents of a selection of templates for recruiting and managing volunteers.