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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.

It is important that if you are interested in completing training that you book in for the session. Further information will then be provided to you.

Email Council to get further information or to book a training session.

Wednesday 21 August 2019 4:30 to 6:00pm Raymond Terrace
Wednesday 16 October 2019 4:40 to 6:00pm Salamander Bay
Monday 11 November 10:00am to 11:30am Salt Ash

All 355c Committee Executive Members, Booking Officers, Group Coordinators and new volunteers are required to attend one  of these training sessions before the end of the year (unless you have attended within the last two years).

Training includes:

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

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
Tuesday 5 November 2019 9:30am to 12:30pm Raymond Terrace Library

This training session is for volunteers who would like additional training in:

  • Microsoft Word (meeting minute templates)
  • Excel (financial reporting)
  • email (outlook or webmail account)

Both Raymond Terrace and Tomaree Libraries run free technology assistance sessions for the community.  Book directly with the Library or visit the Library website

Tomaree Community College runs computer training courses. If their is a course of interest contact your coordinator.

A limited number of volunteers are able to participate in First Aid Training.

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 through Tomaree Community College
Tomaree Community College is the main provider for First Aid training and they have a variety of date options which can be viewed on their website, or contact (02) 4984 1011.

First Aid Training through Council at Raymond Terrace
There are opportunities for volunteers to attend First Aid training through Council at Raymond Terrace, contact the Volunteers Coordinator for further details.

First Aid Training for Committee and group members

For approval, follow the below process:

  1. The committee endorses the most relevant members to complete First Aid Training
  2. The volunteer can complete the training at Tomaree Community College. Bookings must be made by Council, not the individual.
  3. Alternatively, the volunteer can complete the training through Council at the Raymond Terrace Administration Building. The Volunteers Coordinator will provide these details.
  4. Approved training is paid for by Council.
  5. The committee is notified once training as taken place.
Tuesday 17 September 2019 9am to 12pm Medowie

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.

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.

Tuesday 8 October 2019 9am to 11am Nelson Bay
Tuesday 29 October 2019 9am to 11am Raymond Terrace

This training is for volunteers who lift, carry, push or pull heavy or awkward items as part of their duties.

Training will include:

  • manual handling injuries
  • recognise movements that could contribute to injuries
  • hands-on strategies to minimise injuries
Friday 1 November 2019 9:30am to 12:30pm Tanilba Bay

In our bushland areas and backyards it is common for native plants and weeds to be easily confused.

Our trainer has extensive knowledge in recognising the differences between the two.

Attending committees/groups will receive a copy of Ann Loughran 'Native plant or weed? Pick the difference? field guide'.

Monday 18 November 20199:30am to 3:00pmWilliamtown

Council offers staff and volunteers a Cultural Awareness Workshop.

The Worimi Aboriginal Land Council provides activities to help with the understanding of the Aboriginal Culture in Port Stephens. The workshop includes a smoking ceremony, tour of the sand dunes, Worimi history, and an artifacts workshop.

Monday 28 October 2019 Various availabilities Tomaree Peninsula
Monday 4 November 2019 Various availabilities Areas throughout Port Stephens

John Hughson spends time on the ground with our park, reserve and landcare groups. He offers assistance in:

  • project planning
  • bush regenration
  • plant identification
  • habitat enhancement
  • ecological restoration
  • community engagement

If your committee is interested in having John come and speak with you, and the above dates are suitable please email the Volunteer Coordinator.