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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 is for our volunteers and committee members to assist you to undertake your roles.

All Council volunteers are required to comply with Council's code of conduct.

Volunteer recognition and training

Port Stephens Council recognises the contribution that committees, groups and volunteers make to our community through the Volunteer Recognition Scheme. This scheme encourages volunteers, staff and the community to nominate volunteers or groups activities for recognition.

Our volunteer training aims 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.

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

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.

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

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.

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.

355c committee management

The 355c Terms of Reference sets out the administration and management requirements for committees under the Local Government Act.

Each committee has their own appendix which details the purpose and role of the committee and any clauses not relevant for that committee.

Download the Councillor Respresentatives on 355c Committees document to find the relevant Councillor.

355c committees are required to report to Council on the following:

  • AGM minutes.
  • Committee Annual Report - this is a brief summary of activities and projects the committee have worked on over the past year and those for the next 12 months.
  • An updated list of members and account signatories.

These reports are due to Council no later that 31 March each year for the previous years activities.

Under delegated authority, 355c committees are able to engage a supplier or contractor to deliver goods and/or services to meet the requirements of the committee. These need to follow Council's procurement procedures.

A 355c committee is subject to the same legislation, accountability and probity requirements as Council.

All funds and assets held by a 355c committee belong to Council and the committee is responsible for the care and control these funds.

Committees use a cash book style financial record keeping system which records income, expenditure, GST and reconciliations.

Council holds training to assist committees in financial accounting and reporting.

For information on monthly and annual financial reporting requirements see the below guides:

Hall and Community Centre Committees can contribute to setting fees and charges on behalf of Council. This consultation with committees begins in December.

355c committees are required to hold at least 3 meetings per year.

Guidelines for committee meetings as well as templates for agendas and minutes are available to assist committees with meeting processes and record keeping, please contact your Volunteers Coordinator.

Committee position descriptions outline the roles and responsibilities of executive and advisory positions of 355c committees.

Forums are an opportunity for volunteer representatives and Council staff to meet and discuss the committee management od community facilities and volunteer activities in parks, natural areas and cemeteries.

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 our volunteers report matters, request maintenance and obtain approvals.

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

Council coordinates the maintenance of existing structures in facilities such as halls and reserves, such as painting, plumbing, electrical and carpentry. View a copy of the Building Maintenance Responsibilities (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.

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.

Approval to undertake these regular and on-going activities is through the site induction process. For more information see the Specific Worksite Assessment and Toolbox (SWAT) process.

Approval is required prior to the establishment of any new assets in Council facilities or on Council land, such as:

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

Approval can be given by Council's Community and Recreation Team or another section of Council.  Committees will need to complete a Works on Council Owned Land Application Form (PDF 47KB) or contact the Volunteers Coordinator.

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.

Volunteer group operations

The below information will help you understand the way that volunteer groups are run and any resourcing that you need to complete works.

Our volunteer groups work on Council land to provide better spaces for our community.

Volunteer groups can work in parks, reserves, natural areas and cemeteries. Groups undertake activities like vegetation and planting, mulching, weed control and minor facility and maintenance improvements.

Volunteer groups are part of Council and are established under the Local Government Act 1993, but they are not 355c Committees. This means that groups can work in a safe manner while still being supported by Council.

Council can provide staffing and financial resources to support the establishment and operations of volunteer groups working in parks, reserves, natural areas and cemeteries.

Groups can apply for access to financial resources for materials, equipment and services required by completing a resource request or operating the debit card form.

It is important for volunteer groups to report on their activities to Council.

We ask that volunteer groups complete an Environmental Works Report. This report is for all environmental and asset maintenance activities that are undertaken by volunteers on Council land. Information given in this report is used for project planning and grant applications.

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 permitted to be undertaken 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 (unless a volunteer has undertaken training)

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.

A site meeting at the start of each working day needs to discuss site changes and safe work practices for the day. Only a volunteer inducted by a Council Responsible Officer is able to induct other volunteers. All volunteers must be inducted and sign the SWAT form.

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

The daily attendance form is a sign on/sign off form and is used to maintain a record of working bee  activities, participants and work time and is necessary for volunteer insurance.

Downloads:

A safe work method statement (SWMS) outlines how to do an activity safely and the work activities, hazards and safety measures in place to control risks.

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'. Serious incidents and hazards and hazards are to be submitted immediately.

If after hours, this is to be reported by calling Council on 4988 0255 or email council@portstephens.nsw.gov.au

The Volunteer WHS Handbook has more information.

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 in a yellow folder.