About volunteering

Volunteering is giving your time without getting paid. Volunteers don't replace paid staff, but add value to organisations.

Volunteering can provide you with the opportunity to:

  • meet new people
  • share your knowledge and experience
  • learn new skills
  • give to your community.

Where to start

Think about what skills, knowledge, experience, and time commitment you can bring to volunteering and how you would like to be involved.

Organisations that include volunteers cover many sectors of the community including:

  • environment
  • arts and culture
  • health
  • disability
  • education
  • sport.

Choose an organisation with similar principles and values to your own. You may also want to focus on organisations with positions that are close to home or work.

Volunteering SA&NT can support individuals and communities that are interested in volunteering.

Once you've decided how you want to contribute to your community, contact the organisations and find out how to apply.

Most organisations will have an application process to help both parties get the most out of what you have to offer. It's also important to find out as much as you can about the organisation and the tasks you'll do.

What to expect when volunteering

Volunteering is a partnership between you and the organisation. As a volunteer, you can expect an induction, training, and a safe environment to work in. It’s also important to give and receive feedback, and do work that reflects the mission or purpose of the organisation, while meeting new people and having some fun.

Expect your host organisation to:

  • provide training and orientation for you to carry out your volunteer role effectively
  • be clear about their expectations of you
  • keep you informed
  • respect your opinions and ideas, and give them fair consideration
  • provide a safe and healthy work environment.

The organisation will expect you to:

  • do the job you have agreed on
  • be respectful to others
  • be accountable for your actions
  • accept directions
  • tell them when something goes wrong or isn’t working
  • co-operate with other volunteers and staff
  • respect property, materials and equipment
  • be open to change and ready to learn new skills.

Things you should know

Take some time to learn about volunteering. There could be things that surprise you, even if it's not your first time.

Background checks

Most organisations have a checking process to protect volunteers and service users, and to make sure your character and skills match the position. Organisations will ask you to provide identification, and often a reference letter or contact details of referees.

For volunteer roles that involve working with vulnerable groups - e.g children, aged or people with a disability - you may also need to undergo further screening such as a criminal history report or screening assessment.


Protecting privacy is essential for all organisations. To keep personal details private, staff and volunteers must comply with policies and procedures. Private information can't be shared unless consent has been given by those involved.

Code of conduct

A code of conduct guides the organisation’s responsible and ethical behaviour, and may also reflect the philosophy of an organisation. Volunteers are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with an organisation’s philosophy.


If you become unhappy with your role, discuss this with your volunteer supervisor. You're encouraged to follow your host organisation’s formal complaint or grievance procedure.

Work health and safety

If the organisation you volunteer for also has paid employees, you, as a volunteer, are covered by work health and safety (WHS) laws, and you have responsibilities under those laws.

If the organisation only has volunteers working together for a community purpose, the organisation and its volunteers are not covered by WHS laws.

Volunteer protection

Check if the organisation has insurance that will cover you if you're in an accident or injured while you're volunteering.

It's the organisation's responsibility to have appropriate insurance cover to protect its volunteers.

Mutual obligation requirements

Volunteering may help you meet your requirements for Centrelink payments. Visit the Centrelink website, contact your Centrelink community work coordinator or job network member, or call 13 24 68 for more information.

Was this page useful?

Thanks for contributing - your feedback helps us improve this website.

Page last updated 23 August 2021

Provided by:
Department of Human Services
Last Updated:
Printed on:
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2023