The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement

Modified on Fri, 15 Mar 2024 at 09:15 AM

About the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement

Launching in 2015, The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement provide a sound framework for supporting the volunteer sector in Australia. The National Standards are easy to follow and are adaptable to different organisation types and different forms of volunteering which reflect the diversity of this growing sector.

Direct benefits to organisations:

They provide good practice guidance and benchmarks to help organisations attract, manage and retain volunteers, and

Help manage risk and safety in their work with volunteers.

Direct benefits to volunteers:

They help improve the volunteer experience.

As the owners of the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement, Volunteering Australia has endorsed the State and Territory Volunteering Peak Bodies, as being the sole organisations authorised to deliver training and develop resources on the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement.

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Refresh

In 2024, after extensive review and consultation with the sector, The National Standards were refreshed to ensure that they reflect the contemporary environment and that they support volunteering to thrive into the future. Volunteering continues to change in Australia, providing both opportunities and challenges for organisations and volunteers alike. 

The development of the refreshed standards was informed by a sector wide consultation process conducted across each state and territory in 2023 and by insights gained through the National Strategy for Volunteering consultations held in 2022.  The refresh also drew on insights from overseas and other ‘national standards’ arrangements. The project was funded via the Australian Government’s Volunteer Management Activity.

The National Standards have been updated to ensure they are contemporary and inclusive of the diversity of volunteering and volunteers. However, the refresh was not a ‘first principles’ review: the core aims and principles underpinning the National Standards have remained intact and the eight broad focus areas of the National Standards are the same. 

What do the refreshed Standards mean for organisations who have already implemented the existing Standards?

All organisations and groups can implement the refreshed National Standards at any time. 

For many, this might be when they reach an existing review date or when resources/capacity allows for a review against the refreshed standards. The refreshed National Standards have retained the core aims and principles underpinning the previous standards. Whilst it will be important over time to align with the refreshed National Standards, this can take place when organisations and groups have the resources to do this. 

Using the National Standards

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement are available here for free download.

The National Standards allow organisations and groups to make use of simple, practical criteria across a broad range of volunteering scenarios in a way that is scalable to activity and resourcing. These standards are designed fororganisations aspiring to best practice and can be applied at a high-level to guide and inform any organisation or group considering volunteer engagement. 

There are eight standards: 

  1. Volunteering is embedded in leadership, governance and culture 
  2. Volunteer participation is championed and modelled 
  3. Volunteer roles are meaningful and tailored 
  4. Recruitment is equitable and diversity is valued 
  5. Volunteers are supported and developed 
  6. Volunteer safety and wellbeing is protected 
  7. Volunteers are recognised 
  8. Policies and practices are continuously improved

Each standard is accompanied by specific criteria and examples of evidence that indicate a standard has been met or how it could be met. The criteria reflect the core components of the National Standards, and the evidence acts as a guide as to whether the organisation or group is implementing that standard in practice. 

Organisations and groups can use the National Standards in several ways: 

  • As a general guide to improving practice. 
  • As guidelines or a checklist to help identify opportunities for making improvements. 
  • As a framework to assist in planning and establishing a new volunteering program. 
  • As an audit tool that provides a snapshot of organisational performance. 
  • As a baseline from which progress in making improvements can be monitored and measured. 

The standards are intended to be flexible enough to apply to organisations and groups of different sizes, with varying levels of resources, in both urban and rural settings, led by employees or by volunteers. For example, volunteer-led organisations or groups of volunteers coming together to organise their own activities may find the National Standards useful for guiding their work, to consult when establishing a volunteering program, or for working towards a more formal organisational structure if desired. However, the criteria and suggested evidence underpinning each standard is for educational purposes and may not be applicable to all types of organisations. 

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Tool (NSW Organisations)

In a partnership between Breaking New Ground (BNG) and The Centre for Volunteering, NSW Volunteer Involving Organisations can register for access to an easy-to-use, online self assessment tool, empowering you to meet the new National Standards for Volunteer Involvement.

Click Here to Learn More

Please Note: The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Tool currently supports the 2015 version of the National Standards and a revised version of the tool, along with supporting resources to support the refreshed standards is scheduled for release mid 2024.

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Refresh project was funded via the Australian Government’s Volunteer Management Activity. 

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