If there’s one thing for which our region is noteworthy, it’s the number of people in the local community volunteering their time and energy for a bewildering variety of good causes. You’re probably an active member of a group or association yourself!
According to Volunteering SA & NT, there are almost one million volunteers in South Australia whose contribution is valued at around $5 billion.
But what are the rights and responsibilities, and the duties and obligations, of a volunteer?
Locally, we asked Leo Reynolds, Principal Solicitor at Southern Vales Legal in McLaren Vale, for his thoughts on volunteering.
Leo has a great deal of personal experience in voluntary work, having volunteered with various Community Legal Centres in Adelaide during his career, and also having given freely of his time to offer free legal advice to community and Not for Profit associations and organisations in the local region.
Leo also provides plenty of Pro Bono legal advice for those who do not qualify for Legal Aid, or for those who need more support than Legal Aid can offer.
According to Leo Reynolds, the first thing you should do before volunteering with any group or association is to ensure that they have valid Occupational Health and Safety procedures in place, including Public Liability and Personal Injury Insurance.
Leo says it’s vital that the organisation’s values and principles align with your own, and that you are not expected to perform the duties of a paid employee.
For a full explanation of the rights of volunteers in South Australia, Leo recommended that you check out Volunteering SA $ NT, whose website says that as a volunteer you 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 your volunteering position
Leo Reynolds is happy to talk to you further, whether you’re a volunteer or an association that works with volunteers. You can call him at Southern Vales Legal on (08) 8323 9066