Volunteer associations

Volunteer associations

A volunteer association means a group of volunteers working together for one or more community purposes where none of the volunteers (whether alone or jointly with any other volunteers), employs anyone to carry out work for their association.

It may be incorporated or unincorporated.

For example, your local sporting association coaches and referees junior sports matches on a Saturday morning. The coaches and referees are parents of players and they're not paid.  So your sporting association is not subject to work health and safety laws because it has a community purpose and there are no paid workers.

Other examples of volunteer associations that might not employ workers can include:

  • local community care groups
  • resident groups or committees
  • literary and art clubs
  • bushwalking clubs
  • garden clubs

Status of volunteers

Volunteers doing work for a volunteer association are not considered workers and are exempt from WHS laws. However it's in everyone's interests to maintain a safe environment when they carry out volunteer work.

That's why we recommend you comply with the WHS legislation as your standard for health and safety. Your volunteer association will benefit by:

  • knowing the health and safety of their volunteers is protected
  • retaining their volunteers which avoids recruiting and training new people
  • enhancing their status as a responsible community association
  • reducing risks to the reputation of the association

A person who volunteers to carry out work for an employer or business (or other person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU)) is a worker under the WHS Act.  The PCBU will owe them health and safety duties under the WHS Act.