Source Business Directory
MEDIA, JOBS & RESOURCES for the COMMON GOOD
NEWS  |  Communities, Leadership, Volunteering

Risk Management Key to Successful Volunteer Program


Monday, 24th February 2014 at 7:54 pm
Staff Reporter, Journalist
The Federal Government’s plans to expand the work-for-the-dole scheme promises plenty of debate about volunteer rights and responsibilities. It’s timely to remember that investing in volunteers is not just about funding, but best practice, writes Ansvar Acting CEO Deirdre Blythe.

Monday, 24th February 2014
at 7:54 pm
Staff Reporter, Journalist


0 Comments


FREE SOCIAL
SECTOR NEWS

 Print
Risk Management Key to Successful Volunteer Program
Monday, 24th February 2014 at 7:54 pm

The Federal Government’s plans to expand the work-for-the-dole scheme promises plenty of debate about volunteer rights and responsibilities. It’s timely to remember that investing in volunteers is not just about funding, but best practice, writes Ansvar Acting CEO Deirdre Blythe.

There’s no doubt volunteering can be a wonderful win-win – a hugely productive workforce for organisations, and for the individual the opportunity to contribute, socialise, and gain valuable skills. But in Australia today, organisations that engage volunteers can’t afford to be casual.

Whatever the shape of the final work-for-the-dole programme, I hope that we see an acknowledgement from all players that investing in risk management is critical to the success of any volunteer management program.

Risk management not only reduces potential liabilities and reputational harm, it also demonstrates the desire to create a safe environment and protect the wellbeing of volunteers, staff and service recipients.

Most people see goodwill and a gift of ‘free’ labour as central to volunteering, but engaging a volunteer is not always cost-free. Harmonised workplace health and safety laws introduced around the country show no distinction between volunteers and paid staff.

Both are now categorised as ‘workers’ and equal protection is required both within Australia and overseas, and anywhere that can be deemed a ‘workplace’ within the definitions of the Act.

We recently settled the claim of a retired electrician who fell from a ladder while sanding the wall of a building at a community working bee. The case demonstrated a graphic example of the importance of appropriate supervision of volunteers even in that otherwise described social setting. The case also demonstrated the importance of matching the skills of volunteers to the tasks to be performed.  

It’s recommended that all tasks that pose hazards should be carried out by trained staff or contracted professionals.

Even when volunteers are undertaking ‘non-hazardous’ tasks, we actively encourage the volunteer organisations we work with to protect themselves, their volunteers and the public by ensuring they provide:

  • Procedures, protocols and adequate job descriptions to enable a safe working environment. This includes detail about how the volunteer organisation handles emergencies, grievances/harassment, personal information and privacy, health and safety.
  • Recruiting, interviewing and screening that are well managed, including reference and background checks.
  • Adequate Orientation. Familiarising volunteers with the running of the organisation, introducing them to managers and supervisors, providing an overview of risk management policies and procedures designed to prevent accident and injury and an up to date, relevant job description.
  • Training to give direction and skills to carry out assigned tasks. Training could be formal or informal, one-on-one or group sessions. Providing reference tools and guides is an important part of the training process. Volunteers should sign off on all training received.
  • Appreciation and recognition to help volunteer retention. Exit interviews help gain insights into the volunteer experience. All of this valuable knowledge may also help improve business practices, and save time and money over the long term.

Australia already has a proud community of over six million volunteers and growing. With the prospect of a new pool of people coming on board, it’s timely for everyone involved to remind ourselves that successful volunteer placements are the result of a little bit of luck and a lot of good management.

An informed, thoughtful, systematic risk management plan is fundamental to achieving the volunteer success stories we all love to applaud and celebrate.

About the author: Deirdre Blythe is the  Acting CEO of Ansvar – an Australian insurance underwriter that specialises in the Not for Profit sector.  

 


Staff Reporter  |  Journalist  |  @ProBonoNews



Got a story to share?

Got a news tip or article idea for Pro Bono News? Or perhaps you would like to write an article and join a growing community of sector leaders sharing their thoughts and analysis with Pro Bono News readers?

Get in touch at news@probonoaustralia.com.au


Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Recognising Risk Through the Lens of Change Management

Contributor

Tuesday, 12th June 2018 at 7:45 am

Record Number of Women Honoured in Queen’s Birthday Awards

Wendy Williams

Monday, 11th June 2018 at 12:05 am

Financial Planners Shine A Light on Deserving Organisations

Wendy Williams

Friday, 18th May 2018 at 9:28 am

Grants Target People, the Planet and Animals

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 17th May 2018 at 1:43 pm

POPULAR

Australians Are Giving Less

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 14th June 2018 at 8:00 am

The Need for Leadership to Address White Supremacy in the NGO Sector

Luke Michael

Thursday, 14th June 2018 at 8:53 am

Victoria Takes ‘Exciting Step’ to Reduce Red Tape for Charities

Wendy Williams

Friday, 8th June 2018 at 4:17 pm

Full-Time Work No Longer A Reality for Young Australians

Wendy Williams

Thursday, 14th June 2018 at 8:48 am

Source Business Directory
pba inverse logo
Subscribe Twitter Facebook

Get the social sector's most essential news coverage. Delivered free to your inbox every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

You have Successfully Subscribed!