Guidelines for University of Melbourne staff
volunteering in the community
- What is volunteer service?
- Volunteer service and the University
- How to apply
The University of Melbourne, as a public-spirited institution, is committed to ensuring that research, student learning and external engagement serve public ends. The University strives to build long term strategic partnerships with ‘good fit’ organisations from the government, corporate, and not-for-profit sectors to enhance our teaching and learning, research and external engagement outcomes. The University also strives to build its reputation as a socially responsible organisation and to add value to the local communities in which the University has a presence.
Further, the University recognises that within the University community there is a great depth and variety of skills, knowledge and expertise and acknowledges that the University’s staff have much to contribute in the public arena.
The University supports staff engagement in the broader community by providing two days paid leave per annum for staff to engage in volunteer service that satisfies the criteria in these Guidelines.
What is volunteer service
“Volunteer service” is work performed for a not-for-profit or community organisation that complies with the University’s Special Leave Procedure (MPF1141) on Staff volunteering and community involvement and that satisfies the Principles of Volunteering, as articulated by Volunteering Australia as follows.
Principles of Volunteering
- Volunteering benefits the community and the volunteer.
- Volunteer work is unpaid.
- Volunteering is always a matter of choice.
- Volunteering is not compulsorily undertaken to receive pensions or government allowances.
- Volunteering is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community.
- Volunteering is a vehicle for individuals or groups to address human, environmental and social needs.
- Volunteering is an activity performed in the not-for-profit sector only.
- Volunteering is not a substitute for paid work.
- Volunteers do not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers.
- Volunteering respects the rights, dignity and culture of others.
- Volunteering promotes human rights and equality.
(Volunteering Australia, 2001)
Volunteer service and the University
The University endorses and applies the Principles of Volunteering (listed above). The University will only approve special leave for staff to engage in volunteer service that satisfies these Principles and that does not conflict with the staff member’s obligations under his or her contact of employment.
Some examples of the voluntary activities that the University will support include:
- providing care or support for disadvantaged persons in the community as part of an organised program;
- working with organisations to improve the health of communities;
- working with local communities to address local issues (eg. health, education, skills development, literacy);
- engagement in local or regional community programs or activities (eg. Carlton Neighbourhood Day, SheppARTon Festival);
- contributing expertise to promote broad community agendas (eg. environmental issues, social inclusion issues);
- providing discipline-specific skills and expertise in a pro-bono capacity (eg. providing pro bono legal services through a recognised community legal centre);
- working with animal welfare organisations, wildlife rescue, bushfire emergency services;
- outreach programs in community-based arts regeneration;
- contributing to the provision of community sports, arts or cultural activities.
- programs that aim to raise the aspirations of disadvantaged young people to undertake tertiary education; and
- lifelong learning initiatives for members of the public.
The University will not approve leave to engage in voluntary activities that do not align with the Principles of Volunteering or that would create a conflict of interest with the staff member’s role and responsibilities at the University. Similarly, the University will not approve leave to engage in service that is contrary to the University’s policies and values, such as voluntary activities with an organisation that incites hatred or violence.
Some examples of activities that the University will not consider appropriate “volunteer service” include:
- involvement with organisations that engage in unlawful activities;
- engagement in activities which promote discrimination, hatred, violence or anti-social behaviour; and
- activities aimed at promoting particular religious or political views (including protests).
Approved volunteer organisations
Staff may engage in volunteer service with a not-for-profit or community-based organisation of their choice, provided that the volunteer service satisfies the requirements in these Guidelines, and provided that the staff member applies for the special leave in accordance with the requirements outlined below.
The University’s Leadership, Involvement & Volunteer Experience (LIVE) website (see the Staff Resources section) provides access to a searchable database of volunteering positions and other suggestions on how to find out about volunteering opportunities.
How to apply for special leave to engage in volunteer service
Staff members who wish to apply for special leave to engage in volunteer service must apply directly to their supervisor. All applications must include:
- written confirmation from the not-for-profit or community organisation that the staff member is (or will be) engaging in volunteer service with the organisation and details of the nature of the volunteer work to be undertaken; and
- an acknowledgement that it is the staff member’s responsibility to satisfy him/herself that the not-for-profit or community organisation has adequate insurance coverage for any claim that may be made against the staff member or injury resulting to the staff member from participation in the volunteer service.
Approval of the application is at the discretion of the supervisor.
Information for applicants:
How to apply for special leave to engage in volunteer service
- Complete the form HR 10C: Application for special leave to engage in volunteer service (.doc) (including confirmation of the statement - “I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to satisfy myself that the organisation with which I volunteer has adequate insurance coverage for any claim that may be made against me or any injury resulting from my participation in the volunteer service”).
- Attach a written confirmation of the volunteer service from the not-for-profit or community organisation. You only need to provide this written confirmation once. If you apply for this type of leave again to provide volunteer service at the same organisation, you will not be required to provide another written statement.
- Submit the application to your supervisor.
Information for supervisors:
How to assess an application for special leave to engage in volunteer service
Upon receipt of form HR 10C: Application for special leave to engage in volunteer service (.doc) ensure that:
- the proposed “volunteer service” aligns with the Principles of Volunteering and the requirements of these Guidelines;
- the statement on the Form “I acknowledge that it is my responsibility to satisfy myself that the organisation with which I volunteer has adequate insurance coverage for any claim that may be made against me or any injury resulting from my participation in the volunteer service” has been confirmed and the form is signed;
- a written confirmation of the volunteer service from the not-for-profit or community organisation is attached to the form or has been previously provided;
- the staff member has not exceeded his/her entitlement of two days per annum (14.5 hours) pro-rata; and
- as with all applications for leave, assess the application in conjunction with the operational requirements of your work area.
Supervisors must ensure that the requirements of these Guidelines are satisfied before approving an application for special leave to engage in volunteer service.