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Update on COVID-19- The safety of our communities, customers and staff is our top priority. We are continuing to monitor daily developments in response to COVID-19. Find out the latest.

Information for our volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of the Port Stephens community - the time and energy you give makes our beautiful region a better place to live, work and play. Without our volunteers, many of our programs and services could not be provided to our community. Whether you make a hands-on contribution, help others, share your knowledge and experiences, or stay active and form new friendships, we appreciate the role you play.

This information will provide you with further information that you may need to access throughout your time as a volunteer.

Work, health and safety

Under work health and safety legislation, volunteers are treated the same as Council workers. Council is required to provide a safe working environment for all employees, including volunteers.

The following activities are not to be permitted by volunteers (unless prior approval is given):

  • confined space entry
  • excavation, penetration and trenching
  • use of chainsaws
  • use of plant machinery
  • work on electrical equipment and tools
  • work on ladders or at heights
  • tree branch removal
  • unapproved clearing
  • burn-offs
  • chemical handling

Council uses the Specific Worksite Assessment and Toolbox (SWAT) process to provide safety information and procedures specific to a particular activity or worksite. A SWAT form is to be completed by a Council Responsible Officer and a volunteer representative before any project or activity can begin.

Once you have been inducted, you are able to induct other volunteers. All volunteers must be inducted and sign the SWAT form.


A safe work method statement (SWMS) is a document that:

  • lists the types of work being undertaken
  • states any health and safety hazards
  • describes how these hazards are being controlled
  • describes how risk control measures will be put into place

As a volunteer for Port Stephens Council, we want to look after you. Below are prepared SWMS documents that can be amended to suit specific activites:

Safety Data Sheets

A Safety Data Sheet provides information on chemicals and how they affect health and safety in the workplace. A safety data sheet provides information on:

  • the identity of the chemical;
  • health and physicochemical hazards;
  • safe handling and storage procedures;
  • emergency procedures; and
  • disposal considerations.

All hazards, incidents, near misses and injuries must be submitted to a Council Responsible Officer within 24 hours of the incident happening via the 'risk incident/hazard report book'.

If after hours, this is to be reported by calling Council on 4988 0255.

To comply with WorkCover requirements, chemicals and cleaning products kept at Council facilities and use by Council Committees and Volunteers need to be recorded and entered into Council’s Chemwatch database. All chemicals and cleaning products need to be stored appropriately, and current Safety Data Sheets easily accessible.

All chemicals and cleaning products kept in Council halls and facilities are recorded and entered into Council's chemwatch database.

Council provides halls with Safety Data Sheets for the storage and use of their chemicals and cleaning products.

Getting approval and completing works

Before a Committee can start any works, you will need to get approval from Council to ensure that the correct processes are followed and equipment is provided.

The below FAQ's provides a starting point for how your Committee can suggest works, and what you need to do to complete them.

To log an issue you can:

It is helpful to include the following information:

  • name, address and contact number
  • location your request relates to
  • clear description of your issue or request
  • if you'd like to be notified of the outcome

Regular scope of works are activities that are already approved to be carried out by parks and reserve volunteers. These might include tree planting, weeding, mulching, cleaning and painting.

Park groups consult with their supervisor in planning their regular scope of works and gain approval to undertake these activities through the Specific Worksite Assessment and Toolbox (SWAT) process.

A proposed work plan outlines the main scope of works and maintenance activities you intend to carry out as a committee. This needs to be submitted to the relevant Parks Supervisor for approval.

Other minor works that arise throughout the year can be forwarded to the supervisor as they arise.

If your committee or group would like to take on a project outside of your regular scope of works or establish a new asset:

  • upgrades to hall
  • new pathways
  • garden beds
  • structures and seating
  • signs
  • new sporting facilities

Committees will need to complete a Works on Council Owned Land Application Form (PDF 47KB)

Before beginning any environmental works, your Committee will need to complete a Record of Environmental Works - Volunteers and Committees. 

This form is to be completed for any of the following environmental works:

  • weed control
  • mulching
  • planting
  • track maintenance
  • rubbish removal
  • environmental monitoring activities

If your Committee would like to complete work on controlling weeds in our parks and reserve areas, you will need to complete a Record of Herbicide Application form. One form must be completed for each site.

Any works undertaken must be done by a trained volunteers who has approval from a relevant Council representative.

If your committee needs to dispose of assets consult the Asset Disposal Management Directive.

You will need to provide the following information to Council:

  • description of item/s
  • value and reason for disposal
  • location of item and whether Council assistance is required
  • if there are any Council identifying marks
  • are there other uses for the item, such as a donation to community organisation.

Council coordinates maintenance of existing structures in facilities such as halls and reserves.

View a copy of the Contacting Building Trades (PDF 51.0KB) flyer for further details on who to contact and for what in Building Trades.

Building Trades is not responsible for new works or assets such as new storage cupboards, kitchen, power points or park infrastructure etc, as this comes under the Works on Council Owned Land process.

Grounds maintenance of parks and reserves is the responsibility of Council Parks staff.

Volunteer training

Our volunteer training sessions aim to provide volunteers with the skills and information they need to be able to complete their volunteering duties and responsibilities in a safe and efficient manner.

Bookings are essential — if you want to attend a session, you must book by email or phone 4988 0567. Please provide:

  • your name
  • phone number
  • email address
  • the Council service you are from
  • which training you wish to attend.

The exact location of training being held and further details will be provided after booking.

Due to social distancing restrictions there may be limits on the number of people that can attend these sessions.

Wednesday 5 August 2020 4:45 to 6pm Salamander Bay
Thursday 24 September 2020 2:45 to 4pm Raymond Terrace
Thursday 26 November 2020 4:45 to 6pm Salt Ash

This training is aimed at new volunteers however long-standing volunteers are welcome. Committee Executive Members, Booking Officers and Group Coordinators are required to attend one of these training sessions if they have not attended in the last 2 years.

Training includes:

  • work health and safety
  • code of conduct
  • customer service.

Port Stephens Libraries may soon be offering technology assistance sessions for the community — visit their page for opportunities.

Tomaree Community College runs computer training courses. Visit their website and contact the Volunteers Coordinator if there is a course you would like to attend.

Council volunteers also now have the opportunity to obtain 30 minutes of personalised technology assistance through Tilligerry Adult Community Education (TACE). This opportunity is only available on Thursday mornings and can be arranged directly with TACE by phoning 4982 3986 or emailing tace@tilligerry.com

Saturday 29 August 20209am to 3pmWilliamtown

First time ever offered on a Saturday — numbers are limited. This workshop is a fantastic opportunity for Council volunteers and has been thoroughly enjoyed by past participants.

The Worimi Land Council will provide a journey through Aboriginal culture and history. The day will include a Smoking Ceremony, 4WD tour of Worimi Conservation Lands, lunch and plenty of opportunities to ask questions.

Council staff are available to help volunteers who assist with financial record keeping and book keeping on behalf of a committee. Training can include:

  • monthly cashbooks
  • annual summaries
  • GST reporting
  • accounting for investments
  • financial record keeping

For further information, email 355cfinancials@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

A limited number of volunteers are able to participate in First Aid training. Please read the information below carefully as there is an approval process.

First Aid training providers

Tomaree Community College is the main provider for First Aid training. They have a range of dates available that can be viewed on their website.

There are also opportunities for volunteers to attend First Aid training through Council at Raymond Terrace or St John Ambulance in Newcastle.

First Aid training for other Council volunteers

Council service managers can liaise directly with the Volunteers Coordinator in relation to First Aid training for their volunteers.

First Aid training for committee and volunteer group members

In most instances, First Aid training will be limited to a maximum of 2 volunteers per committee or group. Please follow the process for approval and booking:

  1. A Council committee or group endorses the most relevant members to have First Aid training and informs the Volunteers Coordinator.
  2. To undertake training at Tomaree Community College, Council's Volunteers Coordinator must first give approval to the College. The member may then book directly with the College. No bookings can be made without prior approval from Council.
  3. If the member wishes to undertake First Aid training through Council or St John, please ask the Volunteers Coordinator for further details.
  4. Approved training is paid for by Council.
  5. The committee or group is notified once the member has undertaken the First Aid training.
Wednesday 5 August 202010amWebinar

Get information on funding streams available and how to write a winning application at this online grants webinar:

  • hear from Council staff on what grants are open, who can apply, what type of things can be applied for
  • get tips and tricks to strengthen your application

Grants program and webinar will launch in July.

Register interest by emailing pscgrants@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

7 and 8 September 20207:45am to 1:30pmHeatherbrae

In partnership with the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens (HRBG), these 2 days offer a fabulous opportunity to participate in learning and development sessions while working alongside passionate and knowledgeable HRBG volunteers.

Topics may include:

  • rainforests
  • fungi
  • herbarium
  • biodiversity research
  • connecting to the natural world
  • teamwork and more.

Council volunteers can attend 1 day or both days. Email volunteerbookings@portstephens.nsw.gov.au for further details.

Thursday 20 August 2020 — Safe chemical use for weed control 1:30 to 3pm Salt Ash
Thursday 20 August 2020 — Using the Enviro Reporting App3 to 4pmSalt Ash
Safe chemical use for weed control

This training is a requirement for any volunteer who wishes to use chemicals to control weeds in our parks, reserves and bushland environments, and needs to be completed every 5 years.

Safe Chemical Use training is a requirement for any volunteer who wishes to use chemicals to control weeds in our parks, reserves and bushland environments. This training needs to be undertaken every 5 years.

Training includes:

  • chemical preparation and application
  • work, health and safety
  • environmental and weed awareness
  • transporting and storing weeds
  • procedures and recording

A practical session is also part of the training.

Using the Enviro Reporting App

Part of using chemicals on Council land and undertaking works on behalf of Council is the requirement for groups to report to us on those activities. To make reporting easy, we have developed a reporting app. Stick around after the chemical training or come along at 3pm to learn how to report electronically to Council.