3.11.3.30 Voluntary work

Overview

Voluntary work activity is an activity undertaken in an approved not-for-profit community organisation in a verified voluntary work position. If an employment services provider determines that voluntary work would be beneficial to the job seeker's employment prospects, job seekers can satisfy their annual activity requirement or use voluntary work to contribute towards satisfying their mutual obligation requirements. For example, providers may decide that voluntary work may be beneficial for the job seeker because involvement with the organisation and/or the type of work undertaken is likely to lead to paid employment. Providers should not approve voluntary work as an end in itself. The requirement must be included as a term of a Job Plan and should be combined with job search and other requirements as appropriate.

Note: In some circumstances, principal carer parent job seekers and job seekers aged 55 and over may fully meet their requirements through voluntary work without consideration of whether or not it is likely to lead to paid employment (3.11.6).

A voluntary work placement must:

  • benefit the job seeker and the community and offer no financial gain to the voluntary work host organisation
  • provide the job seeker with the opportunity to gain skills which will directly improve their employment prospects
  • provide opportunities which will develop or enhance a job seeker's ability to work as part of a team, take directions from a supervisor, work independently, communicate effectively and improve motivation and dependability, and
  • not exceed 26 weeks duration, unless it is the best participation option in the circumstances, as determined by the employment services provider or if the job seeker is aged 55 or over (3.11.6).

Unpaid work performed under a CSO and participation in clinical trials are NOT considered to be voluntary work.

Approval of voluntary work

Regardless of the circumstances in which it is undertaken, voluntary work must:

  • occur without payment other than for out of pocket expenses, and
  • have a community focus, and
  • not be undertaken in the job seeker's own home, and
  • not primarily promote a particular religious or political view, and
  • not involve working for the job seeker's or a family member of the job seeker's own organisation, and
  • not involve violence towards people or damage to property, and
  • not undertake tasks which would normally be done by a paid employee, including a casual or part-time paid employee, and
  • not reduce hours usually worked by a paid employee or reduce customary overtime of an existing worker.

Where requirements are fully met through voluntary work:

  • Services Australia can give approval to the job seeker for the voluntary work, AND
  • Services Australia must formally approve the organisation for which the work is undertaken.

As part of the organisation approval process, Services Australia ensures that community organisations are:

  • 'not for profit' organisations
    • This can be verified through 1 of the following: articles of incorporation or certificate of incorporation and/or their constitution, being a registered member of the National/State/Regional Volunteer Centre, other verifiable documentation proving their 'not for profit' status, such as documentation providing that they are a charitable trust.
  • community based
  • adequately insured
    • Organisations must have public liability and personal accident insurance. Verification of insurance may be requested.
Last reviewed: 20 March 2020