Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is revising its volunteer policy in response to concerns

Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council is revising its volunteer policy that 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 those concerns.

He said the council was 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 that included a defined role statement being produced, having to submit to an application process, and in general be bound by the policy.

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

“This was an unintended consequence of the draft policy, 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,” the spokesman said.

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.”