The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement

Modified on Wed, 26 Jun at 11:08 AM

About the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement

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.




Using the National Standards

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 for organisations 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: 

  1. As a general guide to improving practice. 
  2. As guidelines or a checklist to help identify opportunities for making improvements. 
  3. As a framework to assist in planning and establishing a new volunteering program. 
  4. As an audit tool that provides a snapshot of organisational performance. 
  5. 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. 




Documentation and Resources

The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Documentation and Resources are available free download.


Download the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement


Download The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Poster - Colour

Download The National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Poster - Black and White


National Standards Translations

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Arabic

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Chinese Simplified

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Chinese Traditional

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Farsi

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Greek

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Italian

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Korean

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Punjabi

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Spanish

National Standards for Volunteer Involvement – Vietnamese


Implementation Resources Summary and Supporting Resources

To get started, Download and Review the National Standards Resources Summary.  The Resources Summary will walk you through the stages to implementing the National Standards with links to supporting resources to assist you.


Access all the Supporting Resources referenced in the Resources Summary here.


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement?

Launching in 2015, the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement are a best practice framework to guide volunteer involvement. The National Standards can be used flexibly, recognising that volunteering takes place in highly diverse settings and ways. They are not mandatory or enforceable by law. They are not government standards; they are owned by Volunteering Australia.  


Why were the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement refreshed?

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


How was the refresh of the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement undertaken? 

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 involved drawing on insights from overseas and other ‘national standards’ arrangements. The project was funded via the Australian Government’s Volunteer Management Activity. 


How are the refreshed standards more accessible and inclusive?

The National Standards themselves now include text which reinforces the need for inclusion and diversity considerations in volunteering management practice.  


For example, Standard 4 (Recruitment is equitable and diversity is valued) is all about a commitment to equity and inclusion. There is an explicit underpinning criterion, which recommends diversity and inclusion are built into recruitment activities. 


Visual accessibility has been built into the design of all the resources following Vision Australia guidance. The National Standards document has been translated into several languages for people who have low English language proficiency. 


What has changed?

Each National Standard statement has been updated and is now ‘free-standing’ with the intent of the standard incorporated into the standard itself e.g., Standard 1 was previously ‘Leadership and Management’ and is now ‘Volunteering is embedded in leadership, governance and culture’. 


Changes to the content/text of the standards, criteria and evidence have been made throughout to reflect consultation feedback, so that they: 

  • are more appealing and applicable to a wider variety of organisations and groups.  
  • are more reflective of contemporary volunteering. 
  • include further content around diversity, inclusion and accessibility. 
  • make the volunteer more prominent and reinforce reciprocal relationship, without losing organisation/group focus.


What has stayed the same?

The core aims and principles underpinning the National Standards have remained intact and the eight broad focus areas of the National Standards have remained. The main existing resources (the National Standards document and the implementation Guide and Workbook) have been updated not replaced. The ‘anatomy’ of the National Standards has stayed the same i.e., each Standard is underpinned by a set of Criteria which are supported by a series of Evidence examples.  


What do the refreshed National 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.


Will there be training available on the refreshed National Standards?

Yes, the state and territory Volunteering Peak Bodies are leading the implementation of the refreshed National Standards and will be offering training to support implementation. Contact your state/territory Volunteering Peak Body to find out when training is available.


How do the refreshed National Standards relate to the National Strategy for Volunteering?

The National Strategy for Volunteering (NSV) and the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement (NSVI) are separate, but highly complementary, pieces of volunteering infrastructure.  


The NSV is future-oriented and provides an ecosystem level vision and plan for the next ten years, with goals and actions that can be considered and adopted by organisations and groups to work towards and achieve that vision.  


The NSVI provide a framework for contemporary best practice volunteer management and engagement on the ground. They are a tool for volunteer managers and leaders to ensure volunteering is safe, effective, and inclusive.  


Many of the actions required to meet the NSVI also reflect the intent and spirit of the NSV and can be used as a demonstration of contributing to some of the longer-term goals highlighted in the NSV.


How do the National Standards relate to other national standards or principles such as the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations or the Aged Care Quality Standards?

The refreshed National Standards for Volunteer Involvement complement other standards, for example the Australian Government’s National Principles for Child Safe Organisations and the Aged Care Quality Standards.  


Of particular relevance in the refreshed National Standards are section 1.2 ‘Risk management systems are in place to identify, assess and respond to risks relating to volunteer participation,’ and 4.5 ‘Screening processes maintain the safety and security of service recipients, employees, volunteers, and the organisation, in line with legal requirements and regulations.’  


Standard 4 reinforces that volunteer screening requirements should be documented, applied and meet legal and regulatory requirements for specific sectors (e.g. criminal history, and the requirements of sectors such as aged care and those working with children and/ or vulnerable people).


Can anyone provide training on the National Standards?

Volunteering Australia owns the IP for the National Standards and has endorsed its Foundation Members, the state and territory Volunteering Peak Bodies, as being the sole organisations to deliver nationally consistent training on the Standards. 


Where can I find information about the 2015 version of the National Standards

Resources and guides for the 2015 version of the National Standards can be accessed via the 2015 National Standards for Volunteer Involvement Archive.

**Please Note** These resources are only accessible to logged in users.




Acknowledgement

The 2023 refresh of the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement was funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services under the Volunteer Management Activity. Intellectual Property for the National Standards for Volunteer Involvement belongs to Volunteering Australia.



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