Council reconsiders draft volunteer policy after community concerns

There were concerns over attracting volunteers to events such as Clean Up Australia Day with the council's draft volunteer policy. Photo: Graham Tidy
There were concerns over attracting volunteers to events such as Clean Up Australia Day with the council's draft volunteer policy. Photo: Graham Tidy

The Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council are revising the draft volunteer policy which was recently on display for public comment after the community raised a number of concerns.

It is understood the community took issue with the scope of the draft policy as it would have hindered people volunteering across the region.

A council spokesman advised about 20 submissions were received addressing concerns with the draft policy and as such the decision was made to alter the policy before it went back to council.

He said the council wasl working to develop a policy that protected and rewarded volunteers as peak body Volunteers Australia recommended.

However in addition to persons joining council committees and taking volunteer roles with the council, the original policy would have applied to any person that volunteered, in any capacity, on council land.

It would have opened volunteers up to a process which included a defined role statement being produced, having to submit to an application process and in general be bound by the draft policy.

It is understood organisations which relied on volunteers were concerned they could not attract new members or carry out various activities due to bureaucracy.

“Some of the comments related to the scope of the policy and the impact it could have on various volunteer organisations,” the spokesman said.

“This was an unintended consequence of the draft which staff intend addressing to ensure there is a clear differentiation between volunteers engaged directly by QPRC and the highly valued volunteers dedicating their time to community and sporting organisations.”

Councillor Pete Harrison said the policy may have affected rural communities particularly harshly.

He said it was important the council’s policy embraced the willingness of rural communities to help themselves.

“These communities couldn’t function without the work of volunteers,” Cr Harrison said.

“To encumber them with unnecessary red tape would kill it [volunteering], but this I understand has been recognised and will hopefully be addressed.”

The spokesman advised the policy would either be adopted next time it went in front of the council or would be placed again on public consultation.

This story Council backtracks on volunteer policy first appeared on The Queanbeyan Age.