Supporting communities to protect themselves and others
In order to provide additional support to all of our members and volunteers, during this very difficult time, QWaLC has prepared the following information.
Please act to protect yourself and those around you.
We will have a regular enews and other online resources available over coming days and months.
If you need any guidance regarding your groups activities please call or email Darryl.
Websites with information for you
Policy and procedures and work instructions all have their place in ensuring organisations, both small and large, practice good governance.
This policy template, Epidemic/Pandemic Policy, is a good guide as to what areas need to be considered by management committees.
Having documented guidance for volunteers, committee members and any staff is critically important. More information about COVID-19 for not-for-profit organisations can be found here: https://www.nfplaw.org.au/covid-19-faqs
Organisations need to be clear on what your actions, responses and obligations to any crisis or disaster will be.
Good communication is essential.
Priority needs to be about how you will protect your volunteers and manage your activities and conform to Government instructions.
Ensuring that you consider items such as:
- member / volunteer safety,
- grant extensions,
- cancelling or postponing gatherings and events, and
- holding teleconference meetings.
Many groups have already enacted policies and procedures that can be quickly adapted and easily followed.
What do I need to do to safeguard my volunteers?
Volunteers are considered as ‘workers’ under Work Health and Safety (WHS) Laws and as such should be afforded the same considerations as a paid employee.
This includes the following:
- determine and implement appropriate control measures and clearly communicate them to all workers, including providing clear direction and guidance about what is expected of workers
- workers should know when to stay away from the workplace
- what action to take if they become unwell, and
- what symptoms to be concerned about
- continually monitor relevant information sources and update control measures when and if necessary.
- provide workers with continued access to official government sources for current information and advice
- provide workers with appropriate personal protective equipment and facilities, and information and training on how and why they are required to use them
- require workers to practice good hygiene and social distancing, including:
- frequent hand washing
- washing tools and equipment
- limiting contact with others, including through shaking hands, and
- covering their mouths while coughing or sneezing
- require workers to stay away from the workplace if they are unwell and not fit for work, and encourage them to seek medical advice as appropriate
- seek advice from health authorities immediately if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your workplace
- limit access to the workplace by other people, unless necessary
- reconsider work-related travel and implement other methods of communication
- for example, rather than requiring employees to undertake air travel to attend face to face meetings, facilitate attendance by tele or videoconference
- remind workers that they have a duty to take reasonable care for their own health and safety and to not adversely affect the health and safety of others.
- provide workers with a point of contact to discuss their concerns, and access to support services
- limiting organised gatherings and visits to vulnerable people. Visit the Department of Health website for further advice.
Should I be asking my volunteers to stay home?
As a volunteer involving organisation, you should be making a decision that fits your organisation and the needs and circumstances of your volunteers. For example, if your volunteer workforce includes many people in high risk categories (e.g. older people or people with existing health conditions) then you may ask people to stop volunteering for the time-being.
I am a volunteer, am I obliged to continue volunteering?
Volunteering Australia defines volunteering as time willingly given for the common good and without financial gain. Volunteers are under no obligation to continue to volunteer if they do not feel comfortable doing so. If you do attend your volunteering role then your Volunteer Involving Organisation has an obligation under Work Health and Safety Laws to provide protections around health and safety. See above for more information. You may wish to have a conversation with your Volunteer Involving Organisation about different ways of volunteering, for example continuing to volunteer remotely.