How can we make volunteering a safe and positive experience?

We want to make sure that the updated Volunteering Strategy for South Australia reflects your experiences and better supports your volunteering efforts. In particular, we are keen to explore the best ways to help prevent conflict.

We want to hear from you about your experiences with volunteering, particularly:

  • what your volunteering experience has been like
  • what a positive and safe experience looks like when volunteering
  • the nature of any issues you may have encountered
  • your ideas for how conflicts could be avoided or resolved into the future.

Help us to better understand how to make volunteering a safe and positive experience by commenting below.

Leave a comment

Tim White

20 Jan 2021

The really progressive clubs manage volunteers really well but they are in the minority in my experience. Many Clubs have issues in relation to volunteers. e.g. How to identify what they want/need (operational actions and position descriptions), how to recruit (having the position description and a volunteer coordinator), how to induct (induction process which includes committee/board positions) then monitor and finally how to manage the volunteers (policy/process and committee being more involved with the volunteer coordinator).
The appointment of a Volunteer Coordinator is essential and this person will know the members and their respective skill sets. Having a committee/board who are clear with the clubs strategic/operation actions means that the volunteer coordinator can be tasked with assisting them find members to undertake a task within the actions as opposed to trying to recruit someone for a much larger commitment. Too many positions have too much responsibility and time commitment for volunteers and by breaking the tasks down in "bite-size" pieces this makes it more possible to get someone to take on that task.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Anne Ferber

19 Jan 2021

After looking at the ads for volunteer positions, I've been disappointed by the number of volunteer positions that should be held by paid employees, not volunteers. The differentiation appears very blurred. Or, is it a case of an organisation wanting a worker without paying a wage. And, 'under the title of volunteering' get away with it! Volunteers are often exploited. How are they protected? And, are organisations who engage volunteers audited against this practice?

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Robert Bean

19 Jan 2021

Increase intercultural communication training and support to increase inclusion

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Kerre Willsher

19 Jan 2021

Personal data only to be shared with the volunteer's consent.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Kevin McCormack

19 Jan 2021

I am involved in sport. In a lot of clubs and the turnover and drop out of players and coaches is quite high. This is particularly a problem in Covid times.
In other parts of the world including NSW and Victoria some sports have mentors, Coach Developers or Club Coach Coordinators. These volunteers actively support parent coaches to ensure they are confident and have the ongoing skills to coach junior participants effectively. This provides a more enjoyable experience for the players as well the coaches themselves. It also connects other coaches of other teams who require similar support.
This model should be investigated further in all areas of Volunteering to ensure retention of participants and coaches or other volunteers.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Tom Sag

26 Dec 2020

I have been a member of Friends of the One and All Sailing Ship for 30 years and have been an active volunteer crew on the tall ship "One and All" for 24 years and have also served on the management committee in several capacities including treasurer deputy chairperson for about 20 years and was awarded life membership 2 or 3 years ago. Up until early July this year I have been regularly selected for crewing on both day and twilight sails and voyages but in July at the end of a day sail I was confronted by the captain and the recently appointed chairman of the board and told that for safety reasons I was only permitted to take a very limited roll in handling lines on the ship but would be permitted to occasionally sail in the roll of "historian" which involved chatting to passengers about the ship and its past history. I was not happy with this decision as I believed that in spite of my age I was still physically capable of safely carrying out most of the deck crewing tasks. After a discussion with chairman I was told that I would only be permitted to coil lines but not take part in the setting or handing of sails. Just recently after taking part in 4 consecutive day sail in Kangaroo Island I was informed by the captain that I not stuck entirely to the crewing guidlines I had been given and would therefore be no longer be permitted to sail on the ship.
I am of the belief that I have been very harshly treated especially in view of my long service to the ship. However I do not know of and greivance proceedure that I can appeal to have this decision resinded. I stronly believe that every organisation using volunteers should have uch a proceedure in place and that persons outside the organisation should be involved.

Department of Human Services > Tom Sag

05 Jan 2021

Hi Tom, we're sorry to hear you had this negative experience while volunteering. Alternative Dispute resolution might be one way of resolving the problem. It works by encouraging the parties involved to work out their needs and explore ways of finding solutions which meet those needs. If you would like more details or to talk through this issue, please feel free to reach out on 1300 321 592.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Claire Eglinton

23 Dec 2020

Volunteering has been one of the best things I have ever done. However it is disheartening that much of my volunteer time is spent scrounging for money: lobbying politicians, working out how we can fit our activities within restrictive government funding guidelines, submitting and waiting, waiting, waiting to hear often negative results, and acquitting grants for sometimes piddling amounts when successful. When all-volunteer organizations have trouble filling essential committee positions, it is tough to tell them that they will also need someone to act as grants officer.

Department of Human Services > Claire Eglinton

06 Jan 2021

Thanks for your comment. It’s not uncommon for not-for-profit volunteers to wear different hats, taking on many responsibilities – from managing social media, supporting committee members, writing grant applications and more. Dealing with this reality, organisations might consider engaging skilled volunteers. Southern Volunteering’s VIBE program connects skilled volunteers with not-for-profit organisations and community groups who need assistance. Volunteers are referred to skilled roles across bookkeeping and accounting, IT, editing and writing, and more. For more information contact Southern Volunteering by phoning 8326 0020.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Linda George

23 Dec 2020

I feel that there should be extra governance over all organisations that recruit volunteers. For example some organisations are very lacking in WH&S knowledge & anti-discrimination laws and/or prefer not to adhere to the laws. It should be mandatory for organisations to treat volunteers the same as their employees. Some large well known charities are very lax.
Volunteers have the right to:
* work in a healthy and safe environment
* be recruited in accordance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation
* be engaged in a meaningful role that adds value to the organisation’s purpose and goals
* receive relevant induction, training, supervision and feedback to fully understand and carry out your role safely and effectively
* be given accurate and truthful information about the organisation you work with
* be adequately covered by the organisation’s insurance
* have a position description, agreed working hours, reasonable workload and clear tasks
* be trusted with confidential information if necessary for your role
* have your confidential and personal information properly managed and privacy protected
* have choices and feel comfortable about saying no
* have access to volunteer and relevant organisational policies and procedures, including a grievance procedure
* be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses
* be supported in your role and consulted about matters that directly affect you and your work
* participate in organisational life through inclusion in meetings and social events
* not be exploited
* not fill a position previously held by a paid worker
* not do the work of paid staff during industrial disputes
* be acknowledged and appreciated for your contribution, value and impact in you volunteering position

Department of Human Services > Linda George

05 Jan 2021

Thank you for your feedback. Volunteers are an important resource to volunteer involving organisations - the management and development of volunteers and volunteering is key to the sustainability of a skilled and involved volunteer workforce.

Organisations should make sure their relationship with volunteers is meaningful, and managed respectfully and safely, by understanding the legal issues relating to the engagement and management of volunteers.

For those coordinating or managing volunteers or have management or governance responsibility in an volunteer involving organisation, the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement are a useful resource. The standards provide best practice guidance and benchmarks to help volunteer involving organisations attract, manage, recognise and retain volunteers and to manage risk and safety with respect to volunteers.

Pamela Murray > Linda George

19 Jan 2021

Hi Linda, SafeWork SA offers a free Advisory Service for small business and volunteer groups. An Advisor can come to visit the service and provide WHS advice and give presentations to volunteers about legislative responsibilities.

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.

Bas de Groot

18 Dec 2020

This comment is not specifically aimed at conflicts, but more at volunteering in general: if we acknowledge that volunteering is worth $5B to the State's economy, is it then not time to also acknowledge that volunteers are entitled to some consideration when it comes to social security payments & services? If I were to become unemployed, but volunteer my time to aid the State's economy, should that not count against some of my job-seeking requirements that are then subsequently placed on me?

Department of Human Services > Bas de Groot

05 Jan 2021

Thank you for your comment. The Government recognises that volunteering has a range of benefits for both the individual and the community - like improving chances of getting a paid job, helping to learn new skills, expanding professional networks

For this reason, jobseekers may count voluntary work towards their mutual obligation requirements. In addition, those aged 55 and over can choose to fully meet their requirements through 30 hours of approved combinations of paid and volunteer work. If jobseekers meet their requirements in this way, they are considered to be fully meeting their requirements under provisions of social security law and do not have to undertake any additional requirements such as job search, attending provider appointments and annual activity requirements.

More information is available on the Australian Government website: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/topics/mutual-obligation-requirements-if-youre-55-or-older/52777

Log in to reply

Log in now to comment

Don't have an account? Register here.