Voluntary work

Volunteering provides a opportunity for you to meet new people, gain practical experiences and develop career-related professional skills.

Specific volunteer roles with direct relevance to careers are regularly advertised on Careers Online. These positions require formal application procedures and may be quite competitive.

Choosing a place to volunteer

Being in a role that feels 'right' will mean your volunteering is more likely to be successful and rewarding. To help you make a decision, it's good to find out:

  • What the organisation does – research website, previous projects or annual reports.
  • What the organisation stands for - read their vision and mission statements
  • Types of opportunities available - do they match your skills and interests and is there an opportunity to gain skills and experience related to your degree?
  • How the organisation supports volunteers, including supervision, training, mentoring opportunities.
  • Time commitment – Think about how much time you are able to or willing to commit to the position. Do you wish to take on a volunteering position that is long term or short term; a one-off event or a continuing obligation? As a student it is recommended that you commit to no more than 10 to 16 hours per week.
  • Insurance – Does the organisation have appropriate volunteer policies in place and insurance to cover you for the volunteer work you will be undertaking with them?

The University of Melbourne's Guidelines for Student Volunteering provides more information to assist you in finding an appropriate organisation and volunteer position.

Volunteering on campus

Volunteering off campus

  • Volunteer rights and responsibilities

    Unlike paid staff, volunteers are not covered by awards or work-place agreements. However volunteers do have rights, some which are set out in legislation and some which are considered moral obligations:

    Your rights

    As a volunteer you have the right to:

    • A healthy, safe and non-discriminatory work environment
    • A volunteer position description
    • An orientation or induction session
    • Be provided with sufficient training and supervision
    • Be reimbursed for necessary out of pocket expenses
    • Be protected by appropriate volunteer insurance
    • Have your personal information dealt with in a confidential manner

    Volunteering Australia outlines the basic rights of a volunteer in their Volunteer rights and volunteer checklist.

    Your responsibilities

    As a volunteer you are expected to:

    • Be punctual and reliable
    • Be accountable and carry out the duties listed in your volunteer position description in a responsible and professional manner
    • Give notice if your availability changes or you are leaving the organisation
    • Respect confidentiality
    • Adhere to the organisation's policies and procedures
    • Undertake training as requested
    • Ask for support when needed

    For more information about your volunteer rights and responsibilities visit Volunteering Victoria.