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Getting ready for student volunteers – information for host organisations

This information is for host-organisations (volunteer - involving organisations) to help them plan and prepare a student volunteer program. 

You can find out about the benefits and types of organisations on the About school students as volunteers - information for volunteer- involving organisations

Before student volunteers start

Connecting with schools

Look at what positively connects your organisation to a school and start to build a successful partnership together in a way that is respectful and mutually beneficial.    

Host organisations can make direct contact with schools or a school might contact a host organisation. 

Be aware of obligations of school staff during school hours. Arrange a suitable time to meet with a school staff member, start connecting and discussing mutual goals.  

Volunteer policies and procedures

Host organisations need a volunteer policy and procedure that should align with Volunteering Australia’s National Standards for Volunteer Involvement. It should include reference to legislation as it relates to working or volunteering with children. 

Child safe environments

Host organisations should make sure that all their staff and other volunteers are aware of the special responsibilities associated with working with children and young people.

Child protection legislation in South Australia requires certain organisations to provide a child safe environment. The child safe environments page explains how to create a child safe environment, including information on relevant history screening requirements

Relevant history screening

To find out about screening requirements to work or volunteer with Department for Education students, speak to the school or contact the department screening officers at education.hrconfidential [at] sa.gov.au or go to the relevant history screening page.

Insurance 

The Department for Education’s public liability insurance covers any injury or damage arising from negligence on the part of the department. This cover includes volunteer activities undertaken by students who are participating in volunteer activities as part of their curriculum. The department’s insurance does not extend to cover accidental injury to students while participating in these activities.

Host organisations must also have appropriate insurance cover and show a copy of their Certificate of Currency to the school. Host organisations who participate in school volunteering programs must also:

  • hold current public liability or protection and indemnity insurance, or
  • as is the case with some large corporations’, statutory authorities’ and government departments’ or instrumentalities’ they hold self-insurance and/or, that they stand at their own risk
  • check their insurance covers under 18 year olds. If not, they should find an insurer who does.

Hours 

Suitable times and days should be negotiated in advance with the school. 

Volunteering should take place during school hours which are usually between 9-3pm, Monday to Friday, apart from school or public holidays. If the volunteering hours are unusual when compared with normal school hours, for example helping preparing meals for a breakfast club before school, this will need to be negotiated between the host organisation, the school, and the parent/guardian of the student. 

If there is a need to renegotiate approved volunteering dates or times please advise the school as soon as possible.

Induction and training

Before students start their volunteering, provide an appropriate induction program that covers aspects such as work health and safety.

Host organisations can use their existing volunteer induction and training procedures to prepare students for volunteering.  

Students can only be placed in volunteering activities where: 

  • they are adequately supervised as per Department for Education supervision requirements 
  • they are safe and protected from harm (physical or psychological ) 
  • the host organisation holds appropriate public liability insurance.

Work health and safety

Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012 organisations must make sure the workplace is as safe as possible. This includes providing all volunteers including student volunteers with an induction to the worksite and training students on safe work practices such as the safe use of equipment. Student volunteers must be made aware that they are responsible for safety too. 

Photographing, audio recording or filming

Photographing, audio recording or filming students in any way is not allowed, unless authorised by the school and with parent/guardian consent. 

If images are needed for promotional use, ask school staff to take the photos of the students. They will know which students have parent/guardian consent.

If the host organisation uses their own consent forms, the school can help you arrange for the student’s parent/guardian to complete them. 

When student volunteers start

Travel 

If students volunteer off school grounds, the school will make arrangements for students getting to and from the volunteering activity.  

Record keeping

As with all volunteers, host organisations should keep appropriate records of student volunteers.

Accidents and injuries

Students should be advised to report any accident or injury to the host organisation and school staff, even if they think it is minor at the time. 

If students are hurt while volunteering they are covered by the department’s insurance as long as they are doing an approved volunteering activity. 

Payment 

Students engaged in volunteering activities must not be paid or receive a material or any other reward. But saying thanks and recognising their contribution to your organisation is encouraged. 

Student volunteers cannot replace employees

Student volunteering must not be used to replace the work of employees. All insurance, legal and industrial arrangements in relation to volunteer placements exist on the understanding that an employment relationship is not established.

Any concerns

If you become aware that the student is feeling uncomfortable with the volunteer role or if you have any concerns about a student’s wellbeing or safety please share them with school staff as soon as possible. 

After volunteering 

Impact of student volunteering

To make sure student volunteering is making a positive difference to the organisation’s aims and vision, it’s recommended that host organisations measure and report on the impact of the student volunteer program. 

Feedback 

It’s always useful to ask students and schools to provide feedback on their volunteer experience. School staff may also ask you for feedback about the students and the impact they have made. 

Celebrating student volunteer contributions  

Everyone, including student volunteers and teachers appreciate being thanked and acknowledged.

Recognising the volunteering efforts will help keep the door open for future collaboration. It might even motivate students, their parents or the school staff to return to volunteer at your organisation in their own time.  

Students and schools will also want to thank host organisations. Be open to the ways they may do this.  
 

Contact

Student volunteer program – we'd like to hear from you

If you found these student volunteer resources useful or have ideas for us, please get in contact.

Volunteers – Engagement and Wellbeing directorate

Phone: 8226 3795
Email: education.volunteers [at] sa.gov.au (subject: Student%20volunteer%20program%20feedback)