"Australian volunteers contribute more than 700 million hours of unpaid work with an estimated unpaid labour cost of almost $15 billion each year,” Mr Shorten said.
“All workers, whether they are paid or unpaid, deserve to be safe at work.”
The new volunteer resource kit is part of the Gillard Government’s ongoing commitment to assist volunteers and organisations who engage them to understand the new work health and safety (WHS) laws.
The resource kit will help remove uncertainty about how the new WHS laws apply. This initiative came out of round table meetings hosted by Mr Shorten with representatives from peak volunteer organisations earlier this year.
Mr Shorten recognised the valuable contribution that volunteers make across Australia and the need for their protection at work.
“The new WHS laws ensure that volunteers have the same level of protection as paid workers,” Mr Shorten said.
“The comprehensive resource kit will help remove any confusion by clearly showing volunteers and the organisations covered by the WHS laws how to comply with work health and safety requirements.”
This kit complements Safe Work Australia’s volunteer telephone assistance line and email enquiry line and includes:
- a guide for volunteers;
- a guide for organisations that engage volunteers;
- a fact sheet; and
- a PowerPoint presentation and podcast.
The Chief Executive Officer of Volunteering South Australia and Northern Territory and Chair of the Not for Profit Reform Council Working Group, Evelyn O’Loughlin reaffirmed support for the WHS laws.
“The volunteer resource kit will help our sector understand responsibilities and address any lingering confusion about the impact of harmonised WHS laws,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“The launch of the resource kit builds on the excellent work already done by Safe Work Australia in providing information on the application of the new WHS laws to the volunteering sector.”
The complete resource kit and additional information on the WHS laws including FAQs is available from www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au.