Volunteer policy

Definitions

Volunteer means an individual who offers their services, skills and experiences of their own free will to perform agreed tasks, outside of those designated for paid staff, for no financial reimbursement.

Volunteering means time willingly given for the common good and of the volunteer’s own free will and without coercion; for no financial payment; and in designated volunteer positions only.

Roles & responsibilities

Volunteer Services (People Branch)

Responsible for:

  • development and administration of volunteering at State Library Victoria
  • advising staff on appropriate deployment and supervision of volunteers in line with this policy
  • supporting volunteer recruitment and volunteer on-boarding.

Volunteer supervisor

Staff within branches who coordinate programs that utilise volunteers and supervise volunteers on a day-to-day basis.

Branch head

Responsible for the appropriate assignment and management of volunteers within their branch, in accordance with this policy.

Staff

For the purposes of this policy, includes Executive and non-Executive employees, as well as contractors and consultants as defined in the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees.

Head of People

Responsible for overseeing the function of volunteering at State Library Victoria.

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to articulate the framework that ensures volunteering at State Library Victoria (the Library) is guided by fair and consistent principles and procedures that provide a positive experience and outcomes for volunteers, visitors and staff at the Library.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all volunteers taking part in State Library Victoria volunteer roles and staff supervising and/or working with volunteers at the Library. This policy encompasses but is not limited to:

  • legal and regulatory responsibilities
  • volunteer roles at the Library
  • recruitment, supervision, management and termination/resignation of volunteers.

3. Policy

3.1 Statement

Volunteering Australia defines volunteering as 'time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain'. Volunteers at the Library make a significant contribution to the Library and its community. We recognise and value the unique skills, experiences, insights and energy that volunteers bring to the Library.

The Library incorporates planning for volunteer involvement into our Strategic Plan, aligned with our organisational goals. Volunteers complement the role of paid staff by enhancing visitor experience and help the Library deliver value to its audiences and the community. Volunteers do not replace or reduce the number of paid staff required to maintain high-quality services and are not used in a manner that undermines staffing.

Volunteering at the Library provides a wide range of benefits to volunteers, including the opportunity to give back to the community, meet new people, be part of a team in a highly regarded cultural institution, and gain valuable knowledge, experience and skills. The Library will utilise volunteers in ways that enhances their experiences, and complies with legislation and duty of care.

Volunteers have rights and responsibilities, including the right to perform their role in a safe and supportive environment with effective management practices.

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement (2015) were developed by Volunteering Australia to guide and assist organisations when involving volunteers in unpaid but meaningful, relevant and useful activities. The Library is committed to continuous improvement of its volunteer management practices, aligned with the Standards.

3.2 Volunteer roles

Volunteers and staff are considered partners in implementing the vision, values, programs and services of the Library, with each having a complementary role to play. It is essential that volunteers and paid staff understand and respect the needs and responsibilities of one another.

Volunteer hours and attendance times will be negotiated between the volunteer and their supervisor based on the requirements of the role and the availability of the volunteer. The maximum regular commitment by a volunteer will be capped in line with Volunteering Australia guidelines.

Volunteers at the Library participate in a structured volunteering program that may include front-of-house (public-facing) or back-of-house roles. Volunteer roles and opportunities are reviewed and varied in line with the Library’s strategic direction.

All core work at the Library is carried out by Library staff. Volunteers make a valuable contribution to the Library by undertaking value-added tasks that would not be delivered by the Library if not carried out by volunteers. Volunteers do not replace staff or carry out the work of paid staff.

Proposed volunteer roles are assessed by Volunteer Services for alignment with this policy, considering the following role characteristics:

1. Is the role clearly defined, with a specific list of tasks and an agreed project scope if applicable?
2. Is this a core role required for Library operations? (i.e. Would the work need to be done by staff if not carried out by a volunteer?)
3. Was the work previously performed entirely or predominantly by staff?
4. Would non-attendance or poor performance of this role have any significant risk for the Library?
5. Will the Library, visitors and the volunteer all benefit from the role being performed?

3.3 Recruitment and selection

Volunteering opportunities are available to people aged 18 years and over. Applicants must be permitted to volunteer in Australia under relevant visa conditions if applicable.

Recruitment of volunteers is coordinated by Volunteer Services in discussion with the engaging volunteer supervisor and branch head. The volunteer supervisor is responsible for interviewing and selecting candidates to meet the requirements of the volunteer role.

In accordance with its policies and legislation, the Library embraces diversity and values the unique contributions of all people regardless of gender, race, ethnic origin, age, religion, sexual preference, marital status, pregnancy, disability or carer responsibility. We are committed to providing an environment free of harassment and discrimination.

Volunteer roles may be promoted via the Library’s website and through a range of volunteering recruitment and community organisations.

All volunteer applications are considered on a merit basis. Assessment of suitability include relevant experience and competencies that demonstrate the ability to achieve agreed outcomes, and capacity to attend at agreed times. Reference checks may be conducted as part of the assessment process.

Any possible conflict of interest a volunteer may have will be openly declared and satisfactorily resolved as soon as possible between the volunteer and the Library.

The Library has the right to offer or withhold an offer of a volunteer placement to any applicant based upon the availability of a suitable volunteer role for that applicant at that time. The offer of a volunteer role at the Library is in no way a commitment to an offer of a future paid role at the Library.

3.4 Responsibilities of volunteer

As part of the recruitment process and prior to commencing as a volunteer, volunteers must:

  • obtain a valid Working with Children Check. The Library also reserves the right to conduct police checks. Continued engagement as a Library volunteer will be subject to a satisfactory police check in accordance with role requirements, laws and Library policies applicable at that time.
  • participate in any requested interviews and training
  • acknowledge and agree to a Library Volunteer Agreement, the State Library Victoria Vision and Values, and all relevant policies and procedures, including but not limited to: Child Safe Code of Conduct, Visitor Services Standards and Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees
  • agree to the Library’s Intellectual property policy in carrying out duties for the Library. Copyright in all works produced by volunteers as part of their voluntary services will be assigned to the Library in accordance with the Library’s Intellectual property policy. The Library will make all reasonable efforts to acknowledge and protect the moral rights of authors of copyright works. If the Library intends to modify or adapt a work in any way, all reasonable steps will be taken to consult with the author and obtain a written agreement to approve such actions through a waiver of their moral rights.
  • cooperate with the Library in any action it considers necessary to maintain a safe working environment
  • ensure the privacy and confidentiality of any information to which they have access is maintained as per Library policies.

3.5 Supervision, support, and development

State Library Victoria’s volunteer program is endorsed and supported by the Library’s Leadership Team and the Library Board of Victoria.

Branch heads are responsible for the appropriate request to engage, project assignment and management of volunteers within their branch, in accordance with this policy and associated procedures.

Volunteer supervisors assigned by branch heads to supervise and coordinate volunteers on a day-to-day basis will ensure that volunteers are supported in their role, in accordance with this policy and related procedures. Volunteers who work with the State Collection will be supervised and do not have duty of care for the collection.

3.6 Recognition

The Library acknowledges and appreciates the time and efforts volunteers provide. We are committed to acknowledging the contribution of volunteers and offer opportunities to attend special events, which may include professional development sessions, behind the scenes tours, an annual recognition function and social events throughout the year.

3.7 Grievances and complaints

Volunteers have the right to express grievances, concerns or dissatisfaction with the volunteer program or Library operations without adverse consequences. If a volunteer wishes to express their dissatisfaction they are encouraged to do so through the Library’s Complaints and Grievance Policy and Procedure.

In accordance with the Library’s Integrity Framework, complaints or grievances will be dealt with efficiently and in a manner that is equitable and fair to all involved. Wherever possible, all attempts will be made to informally resolve grievances at a local level through the volunteer’s supervisor (with support from Volunteer Services if required), prior to escalating grievances to a formal stage.

3.8 Performance and conduct

The Library’s Integrity Framework and the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees provides a guiding framework of positive expectations within which everyday roles are conducted. The Code of Conduct and Integrity Framework shall apply to all volunteers and staff at the Library.

If there are concerns with a volunteer’s performance or behaviour, these will be addressed by their supervisor (with support from Volunteer Services if required) according to the Library’s policies and procedures, including the Managing Performance and Conduct Policy and Procedure.

3.9 Termination and resignation

Termination of volunteers may be necessary where it is determined a volunteer:

  • fails to adhere to the Volunteer Agreement and all relevant policies and procedures, including but not limited to: Child Safe Code of Conduct, Visitor Services Standards and Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees
  • does not have the necessary skills for the role
  • breaches safety, privacy or confidentiality obligations specified by the Library
  • breaks the law.

Volunteers are entitled to end their volunteering activities at any time. In order to assist with planning, two weeks’ written notice to their supervisor is requested. Volunteers may be asked to complete a Volunteer Exit Interview Questionnaire to provide feedback on their experience as a volunteer at the Library. Upon request, volunteers may be given an appropriate reference detailing their contribution to the Library, such as length of hours, range of activities and achievements.

3.10 Privacy and confidentiality

In accordance with its Privacy policy, the Library respects the privacy and confidentiality of personal information supplied by volunteers.

3.12 Health and safety

The Library is committed to providing volunteers with a safe workplace, as supported by the Library’s Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) policy and procedures.

  • On commencement, volunteers will be provided with relevant information and guidelines to ensure the maintenance of a safe and healthy workplace along with training and information regarding emergency procedures.
  • On signing a Volunteer Agreement, volunteers are covered under the State Library’s Group General Accident Insurance Policy.
  • Volunteers are required to report all incidents to their supervisor and/or a member of Volunteer Services as soon as possible, as outlined in any relevant Library Incident reporting procedures. Volunteers will have access to the Library’s Employee Assistance Program service to debrief and seek support on volunteer activity-related incidents and occurrences.
  • Volunteers are expected to comply with the relevant Library OH&S policies and procedures but do not have duty of care for visitor safety.

Related policies, procedures, legislation and forms

  • State Library Victoria policies, procedures and forms
  • Privacy policy
  • Volunteer Agreement
  • Child Safe Policy and Procedures
  • Occupational Health and Safety Policy and Procedures
  • Workplace Harassment, Discrimination and Bullying Policy and Procedures
  • Complaints and Grievance Policy and Procedures
  • Managing Performance and Conduct Policy and Procedures
  • Fraud, Corruption Control and Other Losses Policy
  • Internal Control Framework
  • Intellectual Property Policy
  • Integrity Framework
  • Conflict of Interest Policy
  • Visitor Service Standards
  • VMIA Group General Accident Insurance Policy
  • Volunteer role descriptions
  • Volunteer Exit Interview Questionnaire

Legislation

  • Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006
  • Child Wellbeing and Safety Act (2005) (incorporates Child Safety Standards)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Commonwealth)
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Commonwealth)
  • Libraries Act 1988 (Vic)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
  • Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014 (Vic)
  • Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic)
  • The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 (Commonwealth)
  • Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic)