Should you require legal advice, there a few choices that provide free legal advice and services.
Legal Services Commission
The South Australian (SA) Legal Services Commission provides free legal advice to anyone on most legal matters - phone 1300 366 424 (local call cost), Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Their website includes:
- a comprehensive directory of legal services available throughout SA
- the Law Handbook, a free plain-English guide to the law in SA.
Organisations that hold information about their members or volunteers have certain legal obligations in relation to that information. The most important of these is to provide a system that ensures the privacy of personal information held by your organisation.
Technological advancements have made it much more of a challenge to protect personal information and, as such, this is an area of law that is regularly updated. You should be regularly checking to ensure your organisation's processes and procedures are up to date. To do so, visit the Commonwealth Government's Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website.
The Privacy Act 1988 ensures that information collected about individuals and organisations is safely held and not abused – eg information is not transferred between government departments or organisations without the knowledge or consent of the individual concerned, except in limited circumstances.
Work health and safety
Under South Australian work health and safety laws, a volunteer association that is run purely by volunteers is not captured by the legislation, however common law obligations to ensure the safety of its volunteers remain.
If a volunteer association employs someone to carry out work, then it falls within the scope of the work health and safety legislation and has a duty to all of its workers, including volunteers.
Organisations can meet their work health and safety responsibilities by providing:
- a safe working environment
- safe plant and structures
- safe systems at work
- safe use and handling of plant, structures and substances
- adequate facilities to support the welfare of workers
- information, training, instruction and supervision
- monitoring of the health of workers and conditions at the workplace to prevent illness or injury of workers.
For information about your organisation's work health and safety requirements and any training subsidies, your organisation may be eligible to receive, contact SafeWork SA.
To find accredited work health and safety training providers and courses, contact
Information about a volunteer's responsibilities with respect to work health and safety can be found on the Volunteer rights and responsibilities page.
Also, see SafeWork Australia's Essential Guide to Work Health and Safety for Volunteers.
- Work Health and Safety Act 2012 (SA)
- Work Health and Safety Regulations 2012 (SA)
- Volunteers Protection Act 2001
- Volunteers Protection Regulations 2004
Working with vulnerable groups
Employers and volunteer organisations in South Australia need to be aware of their legislative, regulatory or contractual obligations when working with vulnerable groups, such as children, older people or people with disability. These responsibilities can include specific obligations under Commonwealth and state legislation.
Children and young people have a right to be safe and protected at all times, including when accessing services in the community.
In South Australia, anyone under the age of 18 is classified as a 'child or young person'.
The Children's Protection Act 1993 requires certain organisations to provide a child safe environment. These organisations include health, welfare, education, sporting, recreational, religious, spiritual, childcare, residential, cultural, entertainment, party.
These organisations must have in place a child safe policy, meet relevant history obligations and lodge a compliance statement. Read more about the requirements for child safe environments.
To find out whether volunteers working with children or young people require a criminal history report or DHS screening under the legislation, go to the Office for Volunteers website.
Certain people are obliged by law to notify the Department for Child Protection (DCP), through the Child abuse report line, if they suspect on reasonable grounds that a child or young person is being abused or neglected. The person, a 'mandated notifier', must notify DCP as soon as practicable after they form the suspicion.
Under the Children's Protection Act 1993, the following people are mandated notifiers:
- medical practitioners
- registered or enrolled nurses
- police officers
- community corrections officers
- social workers
- ministers of religion
- employees of, or volunteer in, an organisation formed for religious or spiritual purposes
- teachers in an educational institution (including a kindergarten)
- approved family day care providers
- any other person who is an employee of, or volunteer in, a government or non-government organisation that provides health, welfare, education, sporting or recreational, child care or residential services wholly or partly for children, being a person who:
- is engaged in the actual delivery of those services to children; or
- holds a management position in the relevant organisation the duties of which include direct responsibility for, or direct supervision of, the provision of those services to children.
Reporting child abuse or neglect
The law does not require proof of harm, but a notification must be accompanied by a statement of the observations, information and opinions upon which the suspicion is based.
To report a suspected case of child abuse or neglect, contact:
- Child Abuse Report Line - phone 13 14 78
- Flinders Medical Centre Child Protection Service - phone 8204 5484 or 8204 5485
- Women's and Children's Hospital Child Protection Services - phone 8161 7346.
- Create a child safe environment - Office for Recreation, Sport and Racing
- Play by the Rules - a free online child protection, harassment and discrimination training course for anyone involved in sport or recreation.
The Australian Government has put in place a number of measures to make sure older people are safely and properly cared for. These include national criminal history record checks (also known as police checks). All volunteers that are likely to have unsupervised access to care recipients must obtain a police certificate through an accredited police check process.
You can read more about the police certificate guidelines for aged care providers and how the police check works on the Department of Social Services website. The guidelines have been developed to help aged care providers manage police check requirements.
To find out whether volunteers in the aged care sector require a criminal history report or DHS screening under the legislation, go to the Office for Volunteers website.
People with a disability
New screening processes were introduced in 2014 through amendments to the Disability Services Act 1993 and corresponding Disability Services (Assessment of Relevant History) Regulations 2014.
The key change for the volunteer sector is that South Australians who volunteer in certain roles for disability service providers, funded under the Disability Services Act 1993, are now legally required to undergo 'Disability Services Employment Screening' by the DHS Screening Unit.
To find out whether volunteers in the disability sector require a criminal history report or DHS screening under the legislation, go to the Office for Volunteers website.
Food safety for charities and community groups
Food safety legislation is designed to improve community health, increase community confidence and awareness of food safety and to ensure that South Australia meets national standards.
Charities and community groups that sell food, or provide food as part of a service that is paid for, are considered a food business and must, comply with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. For copies of the food legislation, industry-specific fact sheets, food safety bulletins and education material, visit the SA Health website.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) set the standards in partnership with the governments of Australia and New Zealand.
The three Food Safety Standards, used Australia-wide, provide the rules about how food is handled and prepared, and specify appropriate equipment that should be used to maintain food safety.