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

Last updated: Friday 20 August 2021

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.

This page contains information relevant to the below:

  • Government Health Advice
  • For the Community
  • For Volunteer Involving Organisations
  • For Volunteers

Important Information

Emergency Food Relief 

VolunteeringACT currently has a key role in delivering emergency food relief as part of the ACT Government’s response to our current lockdown.

This is an urgent relief service, providing food and essential items to Canberrans who are experiencing hardship and cannot feed themselves or their families during the lockdown.

To place an order for emergency food and essential items, and to find out what items are available, call VolunteeringACT on 1800 43 11 33, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm.

Government Health Advice

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.

For the Community

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.

Info Guides

Emergency and Food Relief Guide – August 2021

ACT Legal Services Guide

Complaints Resolution Service Guide

Op Shops Guide

For 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

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.

Justice Connect (Not-for-Profit Law) Resources:

Justice Connect has developed a range of resources on volunteer safety, and how to create a safe work environment (both physically and mentally) for volunteers.

Managing people through COVID-19: Volunteers and COVID-19

National Volunteer Guide 

Managing people through COVID-19: Work Safety

Managing the return of volunteers to the workplace

Privacy and COVID-19 

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

Fair Work Ombudsman: COVID-19 Vaccinations and the Workplace

Australian Human Rights Commission 

Volunteering Australia Resources and Position Papers

Volunteering Australia, in collaboration with the state and territory peak bodies for volunteering, have released a  number of position papers and other resources on COVID-19 and volunteering:

Position Statement: Volunteers in Aged Care and COVID-19 Vaccinations

COVID-19 Position Paper 3: Volunteering Vaccinations and Being COVID Safe

COVID-19 Position Paper 2: Safeguarding Volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations

COVID-19 Position Paper 1: Volunteering and National Policy Settings

Insurance and COVID-19: Guidance for Volunteer Involving Organisations

Tips to keeping Volunteers engaged

Additional Resources

VolunteeringACT: Maintaining volunteer engagement in a health emergency

Volunteering Victoria: Off-site Volunteering

Volunteering Victoria: Restarting your Volunteer Program

VolunteeringWA: Returning Volunteers during COVID-19

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

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

For Volunteers

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.

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.

COVID-19 Vaccination Roll Out for Volunteers

This information sheet includes information for volunteers regarding their eligibility for the COVID-19 Vaccination and what they need to provide to their volunteer involving organisation.
(Updated 12 August 2021)

Working With Vulnerable People (WWVP) Checks

Renewal arrangements for WWVP Cards have changed due to COVID-19.
WWVP registrations with an expiry date from 16 March 2020 to 20 August 2021 have been extended by 12 months. Letters have been issued by the ACT Government to affected registration holders confirming the new expiry date.
For new volunteers, 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.
For more information, contact Access Canberra by phoning 13 22 81, or by visiting their website.

Additional Resources

How to safely help out in your community

Considerations when organising an informal group

Checklist for volunteering remotely