For volunteer involving organisations
Last updated September 2021
The Australian COVID-19 vaccination program commenced officially on Monday 22 February 2021. The national roll-out strategy identifies priority populations which includes aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline healthcare workers and quarantine and border workers.
- Protecting the health and safety of staff and volunteers are the most important things to consider.
- Most formal volunteers are considered workers under work health and safety laws and as should be afforded the same considerations as paid employees.
- For more information for employers refer here.
- For more information on COVID-19 and safe work refer here.
- If you organisation is running programs and services involving volunteers, every measure should be taken to protect their health and safety.
- This includes sharing and reinforcing information provided by the Australian Government about hygiene and social distancing.
- This Volunteering WA resource provides specific information about Returning Volunteer Programs and Volunteers during COVID-19.
- Be prepared to continue to review volunteer programs and adjust to Government directives, advice or changes in your organisation’s risk assessment.
- General advice on managing volunteers while Responding to a Pandemic in WA is available in this guide published by Volunteering WA.
Infection Control Training
- The Commonwealth and State Governments have collaborated to provide a range of Infection Control Training resources to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace and in the community.
- There are six free infection control skill sets available, each focused on a specific area of work. Many of these are available on line.
The COVID-19 Direct Care skill set was developed in consultation with WA employers in the aged care and disability services sectors and the Community Services, Health and Education Training Council.
The Entry Into Care Roles skill set addresses the skills and knowledge required to provide entry level support and basic client care for a range of roles and purposes within the aged care and disability support sectors. The support provided in client care will be predominantly non-direct.
Comply with infection prevention and control policies and procedures is designed to provide job or volunteer ready skills related to following organisational infection prevention and control procedures, including implementing standard and transmission-based precautions and responding to infection risks. This course has been tailored to three industry areas so organisations can choose the one that best reflects the services they offer:
- Transport and logistics
- Hospitality (food handling); or
Infection Control is linked to the unit Comply with infection prevention and control policies and procedures and has been designed for the healthcare sector; specifically those working in aged care or disability support.
To find out more about these courses, and to enrol for these free courses, refer to https://www.jobsandskills.wa.gov.au/skillsready#i-#skills-ready-course-list
Support self-care and communication for volunteers
- Ensure volunteers feel supported to make decisions in their best interests around whether to continue to volunteer or not.
- Keep volunteers informed about what is happening with regard to:
- Any changes to service delivery
- Any changes to communication channels (ie should they email queries if people are now working from home?)
- Ensure volunteer contact information is up to date.
- Did you know that Volunteering WA’s VIRA platform can be used to manage volunteer information? Find out more here.
- Set strict expectations on unwell volunteers
- Clearly communicate that it they are unwell they should stay home and seek medical attention if needed.
- Volunteers are used to helping others. But let them know its ok to ask for help if they need it.
Ensure your volunteering programs are compliant with restrictions
- The State Government has implemented a number of stages of restrictions in response to the pandemic to limit the risk of widespread community transmission.
- To find out more about the latest changes click here.
Review your contingencies and insurances
- Your organisation may have a business continuity plan for how it will operate if a significant proportion of staff or volunteers are unavailable or there are interruptions to key services (such as IT) or suppliers.
- It may provide guidance on how to manage this period of transition, back to full or partial operation, during COVID-19 restrictions.
- Or if you would like to develop one, here's a link to a template for a business continuity plan https://www.publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/business-continuity-planning-template
- Every insurance policy will have varying terms and conditions so you should check directly with your insurance company or broker.
- It is not recommended that volunteer-involving organisations place volunteer staff in roles that were previously held by paid staff or have been identified as paid jobs.
- For more information on managing employment issues in not-for-profits during COVID-19 crisis, refer here.