Frequently asked questions
Are volunteers covered by insurance?
If you are referred to a formal volunteer position you should be covered by
- Public Liability Insurance and
- Volunteer Personal Accident Insurance to cover volunteers for any out of pocket expenses following accidental injury, disability or death whilst carrying out your work on behalf of the organisation.
Some agencies also hold other types of insurance such as Professional Indemnity and Director’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance.
We recommend that you confirm the insurance cover with the Volunteer Manager at your first meeting.
Will I be asked to sign any Agreement?
Yes most organisations will have a Volunteer Agreement that you will be required to sign. This Agreement is acknowledgement that you have read and understand the terms of your volunteering. It shows goodwill and ensures that both you and the organisation are committed to working together.
What kind of support and training can I expect?
You can usually expect to participate in orientation, training and learning opportunities that will familiarise you with the service and the role you have chosen.
There may be opportunities for training courses or workshops and some agencies may provide certificates to add to your portfolio.
Talk to your contact person at your initial agency interview about these issues. Determine the days and times you will be required and who you will report to.
What is expected of volunteers in terms of trust?
Volunteers are sometimes placed in a position of trust and responsibility that may include working with adults and young people who are vulnerable. It is imperative that volunteers do not disclose any information about people they work with and appreciate the vulnerability or frailty of the individuals. You will be asked when you commence your volunteering to sign a Confidentiality Agreement. The terms and conditions of these Agreements may vary from organisation to organisation dependant upon the organisations service focus and your role.
These guidelines may help you identify when confidentiality is being compromised:
- Would you feel compromised if information about you were disclosed to someone else without your permission?
- Could the person be identified from what you are saying about them?
- Does the information you are giving disclose issues about the person’s health, finances, sexuality, legal issues or their family?
- Always consider how you would feel if you were being discussed.
- Are you telling something heard first hand or something heard from someone else?
Are volunteers reimbursed for expenses?
Many community organisations reimburse volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses such as mileage costs if they are using their own vehicle or phone calls made on behalf of the agency. This will depend on the financial circumstances of the community organisation. Please check these details at your initial meeting with the organisation.
Do I need a police check and/or references?
This will depend on the type of volunteer work. Most community organisations do require a National Police Check or Working with Children Check, particularly if you will be working with vulnerable people or handling money and you may be asked to pay for this. Some agencies will reimburse the cost of the required check(s) after a qualifying period as a volunteer. Other Agencies will apply for these clearances on your behalf so it is worthwhile asking at your interview.
You may be asked to provide the names of references (not a family member) so the agency can learn more about you. Additional details regarding required checks and references are available from your contact person at the agency.
See our useful links page for more information about police checks or working with children checks.
What happens if I have any problems?
We hope your volunteer experience is an enjoyable and rewarding one, but if any problems do arise with clients, staff or other volunteers please talk it over with your volunteer Manager. Your concerns will be dealt with in confidence and advice and support will be offered. Volunteers are covered by Best Practice (Equal Opportunities Legislation ideals) in the same manner as paid staff. This means you will have access to all internal processes to resolve your issues in a confidential and timely manner.
SVRC staff are also available and we are happy to discuss any concerns you may have.
Can I volunteer if I am just visiting Australia?
Yes! Australia has a strong culture of volunteering with a wide variety of positions available. Please go to the Volunteering Australia website for more information on volunteering on tourist visas. Alternatively, you can check your current visa details and entitlements online at the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website.
What happens if I want to retire from volunteering or try something different?
That’s ok! Maybe it is time to move on to something else or perhaps your circumstances, your work schedule or your family commitments have changed.
If you want to retire from your current volunteering role, please ensure you give enough notice to your supervisor so they can arrange a replacement.
If you would like to try a new volunteer opportunity please contact the SVRC.