Volunteering - What's it all about

Volunteering – What it’s all about?

Volunteering is flexible and will fit around your existing commitments. Centacare Volunteer Service has volunteering opportunities that range from 5 minutes per day to 1-hour per week or once a year – the opportunities are endless!

Remember when you start working in a volunteer involving organisation, you are there as a valued team member. Whatever your skills or experience, they are of use to the organisation. At the very least, you should expect a safe working environment, training to enable you to perform your job, and ongoing support.

If something goes wrong with your placement, deal with it promptly, talk it through with your supervisor, or use the organisations grievance procedure. An organisation that values its staff will ensure that volunteers gain as much as they give.

Centacare Volunteer Service offers regular “Step into Volunteering” sessions. The 1 hour long workshop is a great opportunity to introduce volunteering to those who haven’t yet had the opportunity to get involved.

The “Step into Volunteering” sessions are an informal introduction to volunteering. It is of particular value to those who are volunteering for the first time and those who are seeking different volunteer experiences. Come along to this free session and learn about:

  • The benefits of volunteering
  • The volunteering opportunities available
  • Identifying the skills you have to contribute to volunteering
  • Rights and responsibilities of volunteers and volunteer-involving organisations
  • How to find the right volunteer position

Call us on 99211 433 to find out the next “Step into Volunteering” session.

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 a vehicle for individuals or groups to address human, environmental and social needs.
  • 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 protects human rights and equality.

Source: Volunteering Australia

Why become a volunteer?

Personal Benefits

  • Increased confidence.
  • Fulfills personal needs and goals.
  • A feeling of self-worth.
  • Provide a sense of purpose, spurs motivation.
  • Social contact and relief of boredom.
  • Desire to help those in need and to assist others in the community.
  • To be active and involved in the community.
  • To maintain skills and develop new ones.

General Benefits

  • Opportunities for career advancement.
  • Skills maintenance and development.
  • Provide references/working experience.
  • New inclusions in resumes for paid employment.
  • Opportunities for new career experiences.
  • Sharing skills knowledge and experience with others.
  • Training opportunities.
Download the Reasons to become a Volunteer document

Volunteer Rights

As a volunteer you have the right:

  • To a healthy and safe workplace
  • To be interviewed and employed in accordance with equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation
  • To be adequately covered by insurance
  • To accurate and truthful information about the organisation for which you are working
  • To reimbursement for out of pocket expenses incurred on behalf of the organisation for which you are working
  • To be given a copy of the organisation’s 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 relevant acts
  • To be provided with sufficient training to do your job
  • To say No!

Source: Volunteering Australia

Download the Volunteers Rights & Responsibilities Checklist

Volunteers Responsibilities

Organisations employing volunteers have certain obligations to the community and to the customers/users of their programs and services. To ensure these obligations are met appropriately, the organisation may expect certain things from volunteers.

Volunteers have a responsibility to:

  • Make a commitment to their chosen volunteer role
  • Be punctual and reliable
  • Notify the organisation in advance of any changes to their availability
  • Accept responsibility for their own actions and behaviour
  • Abide by the organisations volunteer policy and processes
  • Notify the host organisation if they become aware of potential hazards or dangerous situations
  • Deal with complaints in the appropriate manner
  • Respect the rights and privacy of others (staff, other volunteer and clients)
  • Carry out the duties listed in the volunteer job description
  • Undertake any training as required
  • Ask for support when needed
  • Value and support other team members
  • Give advance notice before leaving any voluntary work


Volunteers will, at times during their work, come across information which will be considered of a confidential nature.  The information may be regarding clients or other volunteers or staff. Sometimes the information may be of general nature, but sometimes it will be very sensitive and not meant for public discussion.

Protecting privacy is essential for all organisations. Staff and volunteers must always comply with policies and procedures intended to keep personal details private.

Private information must be kept secure, with limited access. Discussions must be considered as information given in confidence and not to be repeated.

Information regarding clients should only be discussed with the Volunteer coordinator when there is concern. If in doubt ask – the Volunteer coordinator directly.

Breach of confidentiality…What is it?

  • Gossiping
  • Revealing information that you have not asked permission to disclose
  • Revealing information you know people would prefer to be kept confidential
  • Revealing information to people other than those to whom you have been authorised to disclose it.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Would you like to hear the information said about yourself if it were you?
  • If you repeat it, will the person concerned be identified?
  • Is what you know firsthand or is it gossip?
  • Does the information fall into any of the following categories: Health, finance, sexuality, family or legal? If so, then it is their business and should not be discussed.

Volunteers owe a duty of care not to disclose confidential information unless:

  • The disclosure is made under the compulsion of law
  • Interests of the client require disclosure
  • There is a duty to the public to disclose
  • The disclosure is made with consent of those involved

Workplace Safety & Volunteers

Volunteer involving organisations should ensure the health and safety of all of its workers, including volunteers. This means that you, as a volunteer, must be provided the same protections as an organisation’s paid workers. This protection covers your physical safety as well as your mental health at work.

For example, to meet its duty the organisation might provide you with:

  • training, information and instructions on how to do your work safely
  • personal protective equipment
  • first aid facilities or training, and
  • information on emergency procedures, how to report hazards and incidents.

The organisation you volunteer for must make sure you are as safe as possible while you are volunteering, but as a volunteer you must:

  • take reasonable care for your own health and safety
  • take reasonable care to ensure you don’t affect the health and safety of others
  • carry out your tasks in a safe way
  • follow the reasonable work health and safety instructions given to you by the organisation you volunteer for
  • co-operate with the reasonable policies and procedures of the organisation you volunteer for that relate to work health and safety.

If, when you are volunteering, you or someone else is:

  • seriously injured,
  • becomes seriously ill, or
  • is exposed to a serious risk to their health and safety because a dangerous incident occurs
Download the Work Health & Saftey Laws & Volunteer Fact Sheet

You need to let the organisation you volunteer for, know as soon as possible. This may be as easy as telling your supervisor or manager. Under the Work Health and Safety Act these types of incidents, as well as workplace fatalities, are known as ‘notifiable incidents’.

The organisation you volunteer for is required to let the work health and safety regulator in your state or territory know if any notifiable incidents occur as a result of the work of the organisation. The organisation needs to notify the regulator as soon as they are reasonably able.

If something happens that is not as serious as a notifiable incident you should still let the organisation know. They may even have a policy requiring you to report these things. Also talking about less serious incidents, including ‘near misses’, with the organisation you volunteer for may help to prevent more serious incidents from happening in the future.


Volunteer Testimonials