As seen in the February 2021 edition of Bowls Queensland's Queensland Bowler magazine.
Like most grassroots sporting organisations, Bowls Clubs are often reliant on the contributions of volunteers. In fact, Sport Australia estimates that volunteers donate 158 million hours to sport in Australia each year, or the equivalent of almost 90,000 full-time jobs. In the words of the former Sport Australia CEO Kate Palmer, "Research has conservatively valued that contribution at $3 billion, but to me and the Australian sporting industry our volunteers are priceless – they are the backbone of the Australian sport industry."
Despite so many volunteers contributing their time to Bowls and other sporting clubs, these organisations sometimes overlook many of the legal issues and requirements surrounding volunteers. As such, this article provides insight into some of the key questions your Bowls Club should consider in relation to the use of volunteers.
Are your volunteers truly volunteers?
Clubs often get themselves into trouble when they do not properly consider this question. The general rule is that true volunteers are not paid for assistance they provide, and do not have any legal obligation to provide ongoing assistance. However, merely labelling someone as a volunteer does not make them so. In particular, you should be cautious about situations where someone starts out performing work free of charge, but your club then later decides to start making some sort of payment to the person. If your club gets this wrong, the person may be regarded as an employee at law and may therefore be entitled to benefits such as superannuation, annual leave, and the like.
There are four main aspects to volunteer safety:
In light of the above, it is important your club has appropriate insurances in place to protect not only against harm suffered by volunteers while performing work for your club, but also to protect against harm caused by volunteers acting on your behalf.
Service of liquor by volunteers
If your venue or event is exempt from requiring a liquor licence or permit under the Liquor Act 1992 (Qld), then volunteers are not required to have responsible service of alcohol (RSA) certification.
If your venue does have a liquor licence or permit in place, then volunteers serving or supplying alcohol are not required to hold RSA certification if performing duties under one of the following licence or permit categories:
In this instance, however, your club must ensure a person with current RSA training is available to supervise the volunteers.
Penalties apply for non-compliance.
As Kate Palmer so aptly described, volunteers are indeed "the backbone" of the industry. Therefore, given the important role they play and the invaluable contribution they make to a Club's culture, it is essential to ensure you are correctly dealing with the above issues to not only look after the interests of your Club, but also the interest of your volunteers.
Is it time to relook at your Club's volunteer framework, policies and procedures? If so, please feel free to call me on 07 3224 0353 to ensure your Club is compliant.
Article written by Matt Bradford (Partner) and Glen Rolley (Associate).
"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."