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Volunteers asked to submit rights violations to national register

Volunteers are being encouraged to register rights violations or inappropriate treatment to a national working group that has been established to address issues relating to volunteer rights in Australia.

The information will be added to a national database that has been established to develop a clear picture of issues affecting volunteers in Australia.

The development of the register follows a volunteer rights inquiry conducted in the United Kingdom, which found a pattern of breaches of trust between volunteers and organisations that enlist their services.

“A working group comprising of all state volunteer peak organisations, Volunteering Australia and volunteer resource centres has been established to determine whether there are similar issues affecting volunteer rights here in Australia, as have been revealed in the UK,” Volunteering Tasmania CEO Adrienne Picone, whose organisation is a member of the working group.

“This working group is collecting information on issues affecting volunteer rights and the management of complaints made by them.”

According to Picone, there is a growing interest in the area of volunteer rights, with debate around whether volunteers should have formal rights similar to paid employees.

“What happens when things go wrong and what recourse do volunteers have to address issues? They might leave the organisation and potentially volunteering all together rather than having the issue addressed. They may also talk to their friends, and the ripple effect of these untold stories is felt right across the volunteering community,” says Picone.

Any information registered will be de-identified and strictly confidential.

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