DRAFT Volunteers and other church workers
This policy has not yet come into effect. It is subject to change as it is developed. It is currently for information only.
Throughout the Diocese members of the church and the wider community engage in ministry and charitable work.
On this page we outline some of the different roles people may have and then focus on volunteering roles. We aim to help parishes, parish organisations and people who volunteer their services understand their obligations and responsibilities towards each other.
Volunteers make a huge difference to the mission and ministry in the Diocese. For many people, volunteering is a way of expressing their discipleship and living out their vocation.
According to the Funding Centre, based on figures produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (2018) volunteers created value of around $41.72 per hour compared with the equivalent cost of obtaining their services.
The Diocese has begun its transition to an improved volunteer framework. This policy recognises that the transition will not be complete until 30 June 2021.
Participant – means a person who is involved in parish activities for their own religious, spiritual or personal benefit.
It includes but is not limited to, people participating in:
- worship services including roles such as handing out worship resources, reading the scriptures or intercessions, greeting worshippers, occasional music or singing,
- assisting with hospitality by making refreshments or cleaning up after refreshments,
- attending study groups or prayer groups,
- attending community engagement activities such as men’s or women’s breakfasts, craft groups or English classes.
Participants do not receive payment for participating in a parish activity.
Volunteer – means a person who participates in a parish activity for the benefit of the parish, a parish organisation and others.
- do not receive payment for the services they provide; and
- must be formally recognised by the Incumbent and/or the Parish Council to exercise a ministry or undertake work on behalf of the parish by way of an agreement; and
- Some roles require a licence from the Bishop.
We have different categories of volunteer. A volunteer might be a Governance Volunteer and/or a Volunteer (Category 1, 2 or 3). We have two categories of existing volunteer recognising people in place prior to 29 February 2020.
It is important that a list of volunteers is created where people volunteer for a one-off occasions such as a working bee.
A Category 1 volunteer is not required to complete Safe Ministry Training but must be inducted to the Code of Conduct known as Being Together.
who holds office as a Synod Representative, Incumbency Appointment member, a Churchwarden, a Parish Councillor or Resource Team member; a member of the Cathedral Board, a Parish Council Secretary or a Parish Council Treasurer.
A governance volunteer is a church worker under the Professional Standards Ordinance 2012 and Faithfulness in Service, the Diocesan Code of Conduct.
Volunteer (Category 1)
who undertakes a role for which screening for working with children or vulnerable people is not required but must be supervised at all times by a paid church worker or a Category 3 volunteer.
A Category 1 volunteer might be a worker in an op shop, undertake gardening or cleaning, help out at a working bee or undertake similar roles.
Volunteer (Category 2)
who undertakes a role for which screening for working with children or vulnerable people is not usually required but volunteers in such roles are identified as church workers under the Professional Standards Ordinance 2012 and Faithfulness in Service, the Diocesan Code of Conduct.
Some examples of a Category 2 volunteering role are – a member of a choir or music group (in which there are no children) or person who regularly robes as a server in a church service, a bible study group leader where there are no children present, and a church musician including an organist or pianist;
A Category 2 volunteer must complete Safe Ministry Training every 3 years and be inducted to the Code of Conduct known as Being Together.
Volunteer (Category 3)
who undertakes a role for which screening for working with children or vulnerable people is required (see Safe Ministry Screening and Ministry Clearance Requirements). A Category 3 volunteer is involved in ministry or work with children or vulnerable people. They will be a church worker under the Professional Standards Ordinance 2012 and Faithfulness in Service, the Diocesan Code of Conduct.
Some examples of a Category 3 volunteering role are –
A member of the clergy (a deacon, a priest or a bishop) who is not in receipt or remuneration;
A lay person holding a licence or authority from the Bishop to undertake ministry;
A lay person authorised by the Incumbent of a Parish to assist in the leadership of public worship, to educate or nurture people within the Christian faith, or to offer people direct pastoral care and support;
A person involved in direct ministry to children or young people including
Family/Youth/Children’s group leader or co-ordinator;
Family/Youth/Childrens group team member;
A Director or co-ordinator of music, a choir or other music group;
A member of a choir or other music group in which children or youth are regular or occasional members;
Persons conducting or supporting the conduct of Sunday school or other educational programmes;
Home visit leader or co-ordinator;
A coordinator or worker in church activity involving direct engagement with people including workers in Opportunity Shops and Church Cafes.
A Category 3 volunteer is must complete Safe Ministry Training every 3 years and be inducted to the Code of Conduct known as Being Together.
Existing Volunteer (Unscreened)
Prior to 29 February 2020 a parish will have people in volunteering roles.
It is important to distinguish volunteers from participants. Some existing volunteers in unscreened roles may better be described as participants according to this policy.
Most often these volunteers have not signed an agreement for their work nor received a duty statement. No one should be working with children or vulnerable people or undertaking a role for which a Bishop’s licence is required without being screened. A parish should develop a volunteer agreement with an existing volunteer as soon as possible and no later than 31 January 2021.
Existing Volunteer (Screened)
Prior to 29 February 2020 a parish will have people in volunteering roles for which screening is required (see Safe Ministry Screening and Ministry Clearance Requirements). Most often these volunteers have not signed an agreement for their work nor received a duty statement. A parish should develop a volunteer agreement with an existing volunteer as soon as possible and no later than 31 January 2021.
Who is a volunteer?
It is the responsibility of the Parish Council to:
- identify whether a person is a participant or a volunteer;
- determine whether a volunteer is a Governance Volunteer and/or a volunteer in Category 1, 2 or 3; and
- keep a Volunteer Register.
Prior to 29 February 2020 every parish is required to create a register of existing volunteers and determine whether their role is a screened or unscreened role. A copy of this register should be kept in the parish and a copy sent to firstname.lastname@example.org at the Diocesan Office.
A parish is expected to transition existing volunteers to the new system and ensure there are volunteer agreements in place for all volunteers by 31 January 2021.
Rights and Responsibilities
Both the volunteer and the parish have responsibilities to each other. The volunteer offers to provide services and the parish undertakes to provide the volunteer with a worthwhile and rewarding experience. In return, each has the right to some basic expectations of the other.
Volunteers have the right to:
- Be asked for their permission before screening checks including references, police or other checks are conducted.
- A task or job worthwhile to them which should normally involve no more than 16 hours a week in any one role, on a regular long term basis.
- Know the expectations of the Diocese and the parish.
- Appropriate orientation and training, such as but not limited to WHS, fire and emergency evacuation for the role.
- A safe place to volunteer their services in and suitable tools.
- Reimbursement of agreed expenses.
- Be heard and make suggestions.
- Volunteer Personal Accident insurance cover.
- A verbal statement of service if appropriate.
The parish has a right to:
- Receive as much effort and service from a volunteer as a paid employee, even on a short-term basis.
- Select the best volunteer for the job by interviewing and screening applicants. This might include reference and police checks and, where appropriate, a working with children and/or vulnerable persons clearance for all roles that involve direct face to face contact unsupervised with children and/or vulnerable persons.
- Expect volunteers to adhere to their volunteer-agreement which includes their duty statement and the Diocese’s various codes of conduct.
- Expect volunteers to undertake training provided for them and follow directions in relation to work health and safety.
- Express opinions about poor performance in a diplomatic way.
- Expect loyalty to the Diocese and the parish, and only constructive criticism.
- Expect clear and open communication from the volunteer.
- Negotiate work assignments.
- Release or dismiss volunteers under certain circumstances.
The members of each Parish Council, the Diocesan Council and the Synod can be held vicariously liable for the actions of its volunteers. Only people who are formally recognised by the Incumbent and/or the Parish Council can be permitted to be a parish volunteer.
The Incumbent and Parish Council must:
- Distinguish between the work of participants, contractors, stipendiary clergy, and volunteers; and
- Keep a register of all volunteers identifying which volunteers are governance volunteers and which other category of volunteering a person serves in; and
- Enter into volunteer-agreement with each volunteer; and
- Formally recognise and authorise all volunteers; and
- Establish and communicate policies for the recruitment and engagement of volunteers; and
- Inform volunteers of the parish’s policies and procedures; and
- Have clear lines of accountability and authority for persons appointed to volunteer roles; and
- Confirm lines of accountability and authority with volunteers through specific lists of duties and letters confirming volunteer status; and
- Ensure the parish is a safe place for volunteers.
- Celebrate the work of volunteers.
- Meet reasonable and agreed out-of-pocket expenses.
A volunteer must:
- If they are a governance volunteer provide background information volunteer and complete the Responsible Persons Declaration required under the Diocese of Newcastle (Responsible Person) Ordinance 2015 and sign the Revised Model Code of Conduct – Governance Diocesan Bodies 2019.
- if they are a Volunteer (Category One or Two) complete a volunteer application form and sign the volunteer agreement;
- if they are a Volunteer (Category Three) complete a volunteer application form, the screening requirements, and the sign the volunteer agreement.
The Incumbent and/or the Parish Council must:
- Assess the Volunteer Application and determine whether the person is suitable to undertake the voluntary duties.
- Confirm that the person has been cleared for the role or ministry by the Director of Professional Standards
- Provide the volunteer with a Duty Statement as part of the volunteer-agreement which they sign
- Ensure the volunteer orientation and including training about the tasks required of the volunteer, how supervision will take place, WHS and emergency procedures, confidentiality, duty of care, child protection matters, first aid procedures and code of behaviour for volunteers.
- Ensure that a volunteer (category 2 or 3) completes Safe Ministry Training.
- Provide the volunteer with information about the Diocese’s volunteer insurance including what is excluded from the insurance policy.
- Inform the volunteer about the Parish Safety Policy and Grievance protocols.
An honorarium is a one off and ad hoc payment made to a person to reward or recognise them for a past voluntary service; or for services provided that would not traditionally attract a fee. Honorariums cannot be paid to a person on a regular and/or systematic basis. If a payment is paid regularly it establishes an employment relationship. Parishes should avoid paying honorariums. Please contact the Diocesan Chief Financial Officer where a parish is considering an honorarium to ensure compliance with taxation requirement
The Diocese is grateful to the Synod of the Uniting Church NSW/ACT for its volunteering resources on which have been used in creating this policy.