Information for Volunteer Involving Organisations and Community Groups on the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

COVID-19 (the Coronavirus) has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and the Australian Government is responding to this health crisis on a daily basis.

For the most up to date information on COVID-19 please visit the following websites:

Australian Government Department of Health

ACT Health

NSW Health

Chief Health Officer Alerts

National COVID-19 Health Information Line – 1800 020 080

This line operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is for general enquiries.

ACT Government COVID-19 Helpline – 02 6207 7244

This line operates 8am-8pm daily. This helpline is to inform and assist the ACT community through the challenges of COVID-19.

If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.

What VolunteeringACT and Volunteering Australia have to say:

VolunteeringACT recently released a media statement about COVID -19:

Media Statement on COVID-19 (20 March 2020)

Volunteering Australia, in collaboration with the state and territory peak bodies for volunteering, have released two policy position statements on COVID-19 and volunteering:

Safeguarding Volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations

Volunteering and National Policy Settings

What VolunteeringACT Members have to say:

How COVID-19 has impacted volunteer involving organisations – Member survey results

Media Release – How COVID-19 has impacted volunteer involving organisations

Responding to a Pandemic: A Guide for Volunteer Involving Organisations

This guide includes information for organisations about safeguarding their volunteering program and volunteers, including handy checklists and decision-making trees. Download your copy here

Volunteering in Response to a Pandemic: A Practical Guide for Volunteers

This guide includes information about volunteering in a pandemic, including information on the best ways to help and whether volunteers should continue. Download your copy here

Managing the return of volunteers to the workplace: A Resource from Justice Connect

This resource includes legal information that addresses many of the questions organisations have asked regarding managing the re-engagement of volunteers to the workplace. Download your copy here

NFPs and Charities COVID-19 Changes for Fundraisers, Dinners and Events: A Resource from Aon

This resource includes important additional risk management information to consider when planning your next fundraiser, dinner or event. Download your copy here

What does my organisation need to do to safeguard our volunteers?

VolunteeringACT has put together an organisational self-assessment checklist to prompt thinking about volunteer involvement considerations during this time of uncertainty. Download the checklist below:

Keeping Volunteers Safe – Organisational Self-Assessment

Volunteers are considered workers under WHS legislation and have the exact same WHS rights and responsibilities as employees. Your organisation should apply the same considerations to your volunteers as your employees. The Australian Government has released information for employers regarding COVID-19, which can be accessed here. You may want to consider how you can make adjustments to your volunteering programs on an interim basis, such as:

  • allowing volunteers to work remotely in order to practice social distancing
  • considering how services can be moved online or via phone
  • dropping care parcels on someone’s doorstep

We strongly encourage you to consider how volunteers working in face-to-face roles, where physical contact is unavoidable, can be supported to do so in a way that is safe for both the volunteer and the service user.

It is recommended that you obtain independent insurance and/or legal advice regarding your volunteers and volunteering programs during this time.

I am a volunteer, am I obligated to continue volunteering?

Volunteering Australia defines volunteering as time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain. Volunteers are under no obligation to continue to volunteer if they do not feel comfortable doing so. If you do attend your volunteering role then your Volunteer Involving Organisation has an obligation under Work Health and Safety legislation to provide protections for your health and safety. You may wish to have a conversation with your Volunteer Involving Organisation about different ways of volunteering, such as continuing to volunteer remotely. If you are unwell and are exhibiting any symptoms you are required to follow the Australian Government’s guidelines regarding self-isolation and testing. We encourage you to advise your Volunteer Involving Organisation early if you are concerned about any symptoms you are experiencing.

Updating your organisation’s ACT Community Directory listing

We strongly encourage all organisations listed on the Community Directory to take the time to review and update their listings as appropriate. Please include any information on COVID-19 that may be pertinent to people searching for your services and programs. If any services or programs are being suspended or you are not taking new referrals, we encourage you to make this clear. You are also encouraged to update contact details and opening hours as relevant to your organisation’s response to COVID-19. If you need assistance with drafting information for your listing please contact us.

For more information about the Community Directory, which is part of our Community Info Hub suite of services click here.

Working With Vulnerable People Checks

Renewal arrangements for WWVP Cards have changed due to COVID-19. If your registration expires on or after 16 March 2020 your registration has been extended. You will receive a new renewal notice after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has formally ended, which might be some months away.
Read this letter from Access Canberra for further information and FAQ’s.
If you have new volunteers coming on board Access Canberra has advised the new application process is unchanged. New volunteers are required to attend an Access Canberra service centre in person to complete their transaction.

Resources

How to safely help out in your community

Considerations when organising an informal group

Checklist for volunteering remotely

Maintaining volunteer engagement in a health emergency

A step-by-step guide on how to pause a volunteer role on Viktor

Info Guides

Free Meal, Emergency Relief and Accommodation Service Updates

ACT Legal Services Guide

Complaints Resolution Service Guide

Op Shops Guide