Volunteer (Including Volunteer Researcher) Policy

Document Number000904
Date Approved24 June 2009

1.0   Introduction

The engagement of volunteers allows the University to strengthen its strategic relationships with local and international institutions and with community stakeholders.  It also enables members of the wider community to engage with and support the activities of the University.

The engagement of volunteer researchers is a particular form of volunteer involvement.  It assists the University in the global competition for human capital by supporting collaborative partnerships and enhances the University’s international research profile.

The fostering of strategic and supportive relationships through the engagement of volunteers, reflects the priorities and principles of the University’s Strategic Plan: Building Distinction 2007 – 2011.

This document is supported by the provisions of the University’s Volunteer (Including Volunteer Researcher) Procedure and should be read in conjunction with that document.


2.0   Policy Intent

This policy seeks to enhance the relationship between the University, other institutions and the community by providing a framework for engaging and managing volunteers.

2.1     Policy Objectives

  1. To mitigate risk by ensuring compliance with University policy and with legislative and statutory obligations.
  2. To ensure consistency in the engagement of volunteers.

3.0   Scope

This policy applies specifically to:

  1. persons undertaking research as volunteers without remuneration;
  2. individuals who volunteer their services to assist the University without receiving remuneration; and
  3. individuals with approval to undertake a program of vocational development through work experience activities at the University.

This policy does not apply to:

  1. volunteers offering to be the subject of a research trial or project;
  2. staff and students of the University engaging in work integrated learning activities;
  3. individuals attending the University as part of a formal student exchange program or collaborative research arrangement;
  4. individuals attending the University to engage in routine academic, operational or business activities;
  5. community members appointed to University committees; or
  6. visiting or conjoint appointments. 

4.0   Definitions

In the context of this policy a:

conjoint appointment means appointment of a person who is appointed but not employed by the University of Newcastle and who makes a significant contribution to the teaching, research and academic activities of the University without remuneration in the form of salary in accordance with the Appointment of Conjoints Guideline.

person with delegated authority means a Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Director or Head of School in accordance with The University of Newcastle Delegation Policy – Schedule 1 – Delegation by Function (HumanResources)

Research Higher Degree candidate means an individual who is formally enrolled in a University of Newcastle research higher degree program.

Safety Risk Review means an initial analysis of the activity and process whereby supervisors, managers and staff identify and control hazards that may affect people in the workplace.

Health and Safety Risk Assessment means a systematic documentation of the activity and process that clearly identifies the hazards, assessment and control strategies to address these hazards.

University facility means infrastructure owned, maintained or supported by the University.

visiting appointment means appointment of an academic who is invited from an interstate or overseas institution to contribute to the academic activities of the University without remuneration in the form of salary in accordance with the Visiting Appointment Guidelines.

volunteer means a person from the local or global community who has University approval to perform tasks at the University without remuneration in the form of salary.

volunteers means a volunteer, volunteer researcher or work experience volunteer.

volunteer researcher means an individual, other than a visiting or conjoint appointment, research higher degree candidate or participant in a formal student exchange program, who is invited to participate in research activities without being employed by the University.  This includes international placements and a University of Newcastle student with approval to participate in research activities outside of their assessable course or program requirements.

An international volunteer researcher would normally:

  1. be at least eighteen years of age;
  2. have been studying or engaged in their field of expertise for at least the last twelve months prior to the visit;
  3. have sufficient English proficiency to undertake a research program;
  4. have adequate health insurance;
  5. not be enrolled at post-graduate level at another Australian institution; and
  6. hold the necessary visa.

work experience volunteer means an individual who is approved to undertake vocational work experience at a University facility without remuneration in the form of salary. 

5.0   Policy provisions

5.1     Engagement of a Volunteer

  1. A volunteer, volunteer researcher or work experience volunteer may only be approved to undertake a voluntary role or work experience by an officer with delegated authority in accordance with The University of Newcastle Delegation Policy – Human Resource Schedules.
  2. Volunteers may only be engaged by the University when the supervision and infrastructure necessary to support their activities are available and have been assigned.
  3. An intellectual property agreement must be established where volunteers are engaged in research activities with potential for commercialisation.
  4. An initial Safety Risk Review detailed on the Volunteer Checklist will be completed prior to the engagement of a volunteer, volunteer researcher or work experience volunteer.
  5. Where consistent with standard discipline or organisational practice a Health and Safety Risk Assessment will be completed prior to the engagement of a volunteer, volunteer researcher or work experience volunteer.
  6. Steps must be taken during the engagement of a volunteer to ensure the safety of children, families or other members of the public (including students) who may be involved in dealing with a volunteer undertaking approved activities. Specific to the context of their engagement such steps may include undergoing working with children and/or criminal record checks and/or a Statutory Declaration.

5.2     Volunteer Responsibilities

  1. Volunteers engaged by the University will be subject to the legislative and statutory obligations of the University, and the provisions of University policies and procedures.
  2. Volunteers must not disclose, disseminate or make use of confidential information relating to the University’s affairs gained during the course of their engagement as a volunteer.
  3. Volunteers should acknowledge and observe the University’s Code of Conduct in all of their University dealings.

5.3     Supervisor Responsibilities

           i.    Supervisors are required to provide adequate supervision, ensure that suitable training, information and instruction are provided and that the controls identified in any Safety Risk Review or Health and Safety Risk Assessment are implemented and monitored.

5.4     Access to Information Technology

Volunteers should seek access to information technology services through registration as an IT affiliate.  Information regarding IT affiliate access is available at the following web site http://www.newcastle.edu.au/unit/it/account/index.html

5.5     Withdrawal of an Invitation

An invitation to participate as a volunteer may be withdrawn at the discretion of the approving officer or nominee.

5.6     Expenses

Volunteers may be reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses subject to the conditions set out in the Volunteer (Including Volunteer Researcher) Procedure.

5.7     Insurance

  1. Volunteers will be covered by the University’s Public Liability Policy for damage they may accidentally do to other people or property in the course of their approved University activities.
  2. The University will provide limited personal accident insurance for volunteers of the University subject to the conditions set out in the Volunteer (Including Volunteer Researcher) Procedure.
  3. Work experience volunteers will not be covered by the University’s personal accident policy.
  4. Volunteers are not employees of the University and are not covered by the University’s Workers Compensation Policy.

6.0   Privacy

The University will comply – in all of its dealings with volunteers – with the privacy principles set out in the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) as set out in the University’s Privacy Management Plan.


7.0   Essential Supporting Documents

Delegation of Authority Policy – 000083 – Human Resource Schedule

The University of Newcastle Delegation Policy – Schedule 1 – Delegation by Function (HumanResources)

Intellectual Property Policy 000831

University Computing and Communication Facilities Conditions of Use 000817

Volunteer (Including Volunteer Researcher) Procedure 000905

Code of Conduct 000059


8.0   Related Documents

Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research

Child Protection (Offenders Registration) Act 2000

Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998

English Proficiency Policy 000104

Honorary Appointments Policy 000408

Privacy Management Plan 000258

Visiting Appointment Guidelines 000378

Responsible Conduct of Research Policy 000873

Appointment of Conjoints Guideline 000067


Approval AuthorityVice-Chancellor
Date Approved24 June 2009
Date for Review24 June 2012
Policy SponsorVice-Chancellor
Policy OwnerDeputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)
Policy ContactDirector, Human Resource Services