Risk management and insurance

Risk management is the process of managing an organisation’s exposure to potential liabilities.

Organisations have a responsibility for adequate insurance to cover the activities of volunteers. While the Volunteer Protection Act 2001 gives legal protection from personal liability to volunteers doing voluntary work for an incorporated community organisation or government program, it doesn't cover additional matters such as personal injury.

Risk management

Organisations in South Australia have a responsibility to provide a healthy, safe and risk-free environment for their paid staff, volunteers and the communities they serve. This includes planning for:

  • the ability to manage crisis situations
  • preventative measures to reduce legal liability.

These responsibilities can include obligations under Commonwealth and state legislation.

The STARservice Development program is an easy to use, interactive, free, online, self-paced development program which guides community organisations towards sustainability and provides access to a range of valuable resources. Its benefits include:

  • developing better practices, including work, health and safety (WHS), risk and financial management
  • becoming well positioned to attract funding and support
  • developing policies and procedures
  • having qualified and motivated employees and volunteers
  • providing a safe, positive and welcoming environment.


Incorporation is a voluntary, simple and inexpensive means of establishing a legal entity, separate from the individual members. It's particularly suitable for small, community-based groups. In other words, the association is considered by law to have a distinct identity that continues despite changes to its membership.

Insurance for your volunteers

Organisations should identify the potential risks involved in the work of volunteers and take measures to minimise the risk of damage, loss or injury to others.

The nature and scope of activities volunteers are authorised to engage in should be made clear to volunteers. This will involve documentation and thorough induction and training.

To ensure protection for the organisation and volunteers in relation to personal injury, organisations may need to consider obtaining specific insurance coverage. This additional cover can provide benefits to volunteers following injury, disability or even death while carrying out duties for their organisation.

Types of insurance

There's a wide variety of insurance available to organisations, however, three core types of insurance that organisations purchase to provide protection to the organisation, volunteers and the community are:

Personal accident insurance and income protection insurance

Provides benefits to volunteers following accidental injury, disability or death while carrying out their work on behalf of the organisation.

Public liability insurance

Protects organisations against third party claims for personal injury or property damage as a result of accidents or negligence by staff or volunteers.

Associations and officers' liability insurance

Insures an incorporated organisation's committee members and office bearers for legal liability, including legal costs, where, in the process of operating the organisation, they have committed a wrongful act.

Organisations can contact their current insurer or a provider that specialises in volunteer or community organisation insurance to get professional advice to make sure they are adequately protected. Individual policy rules and costs will vary between insurance companies.

Insurance and risk management for corporate volunteers – Volunteering Australia

Buying insurance

The decision to buy insurance is just one element of the risk management process.

An insurance policy transfers the risk to the insurer. Risk management strategies, such as safety protocols and training initiatives, may help to reduce insurance costs by minimising claims.

An insurance broker or agent can offer advice on the type of insurance that will suit your organisation's needs. Where an organisation needs to purchase a range of insurances and these are purchased from a single insurer, they should be able to offer a reduced premium.

If your organisation is unable to access group insurance through an affiliated association such as a peak association or national body, it would be worthwhile shopping around to compare the type of cover offered and costs.

Related Information

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Page last updated 22 February 2022

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