Definitions, Principles and Rights of Volunteering
Find out what your rights are as a volunteer.
Definition of formal volunteering
Formal volunteering is an activity which takes place through not for profit organisations or projects undertaken:
- To be of benefit to the community and the volunteer;
- Of the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion;
- For no financial payment; and
- In designation volunteering positions only.
Principles of volunteering
- Volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer.
- Volunteer work is unpaid.
- Volunteering is always a matter of choice.
- Volunteering is not compulsorily undertaken to receive pensions or government allowances.
- Volunteering is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community.
- Volunteering is an activity performed in the not for profit sector only. Volunteering is not a substitute for paid work.
- Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers.
- Volunteering respects the rights, dignity and culture of others.
- Volunteering promotes human rights and equality.
Unlike paid staff, volunteers are not covered by awards or work-place agreements.
Volunteers do have rights, some which are enshrined in legislation and some which could be considered the moral obligations of an organisation involving volunteers.
Volunteering Australia promotes the following as the basic rights of a volunteer.
As a volunteer you have the right:
- To work in a healthy and safe environment (refer to Occupational Health and Safety Act);
- 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;
- To be given a copy of the organisations 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.