If you are a current volunteer seeking advice or would like to volunteer please contact the Volunteering Peak Body in your State or Territory.
The following information taken from Volunteering Australia’s paper COVID-19 Position Paper No. 2: Safeguarding Volunteers and Volunteer Involving Organisations. For more information about any of the below please download the full paper or contact your State or Territory volunteering peak body.
I would like to volunteer to help
Please contact the Volunteering Peak Body in your State or Territory to find out the opportunities to volunteer near you.
I am a volunteer, am I obliged 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 Laws to provide protections around health and safety. See above for more information. You may wish to have a conversation with your Volunteer Involving Organisation about different ways of volunteering, for example continuing to volunteer remotely. For further advice please contact the Volunteering Peak Body in your State or Territory.
Mutual obligation and volunteering
Our current advice to individuals unable to meet their mutual obligation requirements because of the COVID-19 situation is to contact Centrelink to discuss.
At this stage mutual obligations have been suspended now until 1 June 2020.
Volunteering Australia is urgently calling on the Federal Government to introduce an extended pause on mutual obligation requirements in line with the call by the Australian Council of Social Services. The temporary pause on mutual obligations to allow the MyGov website to recover capacity is welcome, but it does not address the more fundamental challenges that people are facing in meeting their obligations because of COVID-19.
Can I volunteer whilst on JobKeeper Payment?
Generally, there are no restrictions on employees or those who are self-employed doing volunteer work while receiving the JobKeeper Payment. So someone could receive the JobKeeper Payment and, in their spare time, volunteer for an organisation.
However, employees need to be paid for any work they do for their employers under their normal workplace arrangements. Eligible employees need to be paid a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight a week, which can include wages or leave payments. Part 6-4C of the Fair Work Act allows an employer who is entitled to the JobKeeper payment in relation to a particular employee to give a temporary ‘JobKeeper enabling direction’ to that employee. The JobKeeper enabling direction to the employee could be about: reducing the employee’s ordinary hours of work; the duties to be performed by the employee, or the location of the employee’s work. More information on the interactions between the Fair Work Act and the JobKeeper Payment are available on the Fair Work website at https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws/flexibility-in-workplace-laws-during-coronavirus/jobkeeper-changes-to-the-fair-work-act#jobkeeper-scheme.
In addition to volunteering, employees or those who are self-employed who receive the JobKeeper Payment can have another job. For example, someone who has been stood down on leave from their permanent job could receive JobKeeper and take a casual job through another employer. There are no income or assets tests for the JobKeeper Payment.
Informal self-organising volunteers
Volunteering Australia is urging people to exert caution in embarking on informal volunteering (for example, individuals or self-organising groups who are providing support to people affected by COVID-19). Individuals need to consider issues of privacy and self-care and avoid putting themselves and others in the community at risk. This means adhering to recommended social distancing guidelines and other official guidance as it emerges in the coming months.
We are asking people to consider volunteering for existing Volunteer Involving Organisations in their local community.
Spontaneous volunteers supporting the emergency response
The State and Territory peak bodies for volunteering register offers of assistance from spontaneous volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency, we encourage you to contact your State and Territory peak volunteering bodies and register your interest.
Conversations are taking place at the state/territory level about how volunteers might help as the crisis develops and our health services and paid health workforce come under increasing pressure.