Checks in place for all involved
Working with children check, police check, driving history check, occupational health and safety compliance checks – checks and more checks... for anyone new to volunteering the amount of paperwork they need to complete can appear daunting.
However, this should not mean potential volunteers should change their mind or put it in the too-hard basket.
Yes, gone are the days when a volunteer could just roll up to an organisation and lend a hand.
However, these checks have been introduced for the benefit and safety of both the volunteer and the people with whom they work.
No organisation wants their volunteers to be placed at risk and, likewise, the community does not want to be at risk from potentially unsuitable people.
Think about it... would you want an elderly member of our community being driven to a medical appointment by someone without a licence? Or have someone with a lengthy criminal record allowed in your home? No? That’s exactly why these checks exist. As defined in the Safe Work Australia fact sheet, ‘the general duties of volunteer organisations in relation to volunteers are well established in Australian law’.
This means organisations have a duty of care towards their volunteers and their communities.
Under the model Work Health and Safety laws, the primary duty of care for organisations is ‘to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers, including volunteers engaged in work for the business or undertaking’.
To do this, organisations are encouraged to provide training and host regular meetings to update their volunteers on the health and safety requirements of their role to avoid any injury, whether physical or psychological, and to provide appropriate safety gear the volunteer might require to successfully complete their role.
This could be as basic as supplying bottles of water and sunscreen for volunteer drivers on hot days, or more in-depth, such as providing conflict training. That’s one check. Then there are the other vital checks all organisations are required to complete to ensure they’re not placing their communities at risk.
No organisation wants to swamp their wonderful volunteers in paperwork, but all do want to ensure the safety of both their volunteers and their communities.
That is why it’s so vital all volunteers complete the required checks. Changing lives, strengthening communities Julie Pettett is Centre for Participation chief executive