For volunteer involving organisations

Last updated July 2022 

Safeguard volunteers

Protecting the health and safety of staff and volunteers are the most important things to consider.

Volunteers should be afforded the same work health and safety considerations as paid employees.

Volunteer programs should be reviewed to consider current advice from the WA State Government on how to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and transmission in the community.

Key steps encouraged include:

  • Wearing a mask indoors, particularly in crowded areas or where it is hard to physically distance
  • Staying up to date with flu and COVID vaccinations
  • Getting tested if people feel unwell (more than 28 days if had COVID) and isolating as required
  • Keeping up good hygiene habits, such as hand washing and sanitising.

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
  • Retail.

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.
  • 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.

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.
  • 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 to NFPLaw.