If you register to volunteer, your details will be passed on to an organisation in your area that requires assistance, if any. If you have seen calls for help through other channels (e.g. social media) you can arrange this on your own. We recommend making sure calls to help through these other channels are legitimate and will not create help that hinders the recovery process. Please remember to ensure your health and safety is considered, and understand that informal volunteering doesn't afford the same level of protection as formal volunteering through an organisation, such as coverage by the Volunteer Personal Accident and Public Liability Insurance of the organisation you volunteer with.
How it works
Anyone can become an emergency volunteer and be part of your community's effort to recover in times of need. You don't need any specialist skills, just a hand in the air that says "I can help".
To be eligible, you must:
- Be residing in Australia
- Be at least 18 years old
Register your details
Your information is stored securely on our platform and you can opt in and out of any current campaigns. You can set your availability or even pause your profile if you are no longer available.
Your details are passed along
Your details are given to certified Volunteering Involving Organisations in need of volunteers based on the details and location you provide.
Organisation contacts you
When available, organisations will offer you volunteer opportunities. As recovery from emergencies can take weeks, months or even years, you may not be needed until much later. Don't lose heart, every volunteer is valued.
The effects of emergency disasters can be felt long after the inital impact has subsided. This is why it's important to have a network of people ready to assist with community recovery.
Please be aware that for safety reasons, it is important that you do not go to the site of an emergency on your own and wait to be contacted by an organisation that is recruiting volunteers for the emergency. In the meantime, you can check on family, friends and neighbours.
Emergency support volunteers will not be sent to any areas or activities where there is a known threat or danger. They will only be called upon to assist in preparation before a disaster or after the immediate response of front line volunteers. Find out more about front line volunteers
Frequently asked questions
Reimbursement of expenses incurred by volunteers varies between organisations. If you register your interest and are contacted, you can clarify this with the organisation.
When you register as an emergency volunteer, you will be asked to list the skills you can offer. You may only be contacted if your particular skills are requested by the community organisation needing extra help.
That particular community organisation will then ensure you receive any induction or orientation necessary before you start the position.
The length of time and amount of assistance will depend on you, the size of the emergency and the amount of extra help the community organisation requesting assistance might need. Shifts may be a few hours, a full day or even spread out over several days.
If you are contacted, you can discuss the shifts available and you can then choose to help for the length of time that suits you.If there are no shifts that suit you that's okay. You can keep an eye out for other positions or register for other general volunteering positions if that's of interest to you.
No, there is no guarantee that your support will be required. Organisations that require assistance will contact volunteers that have registered based on their current need. Often in emergency situations the organisations recruit from their own volunteer pool first as taking on new volunteers at short notice is not always possible. Some people who register may not be contacted for many months as the greatest need for volunteers is during the recovery stages of the emergency. It is therefore important to keep your contact details up-to-date.
In times of emergency and community recovery there is a lot to coordinate so you may or may not be required. It depends on your location, skills, availability and the needs of the communities requesting volunteers. It is worth noting that after the emergency you may be required weeks or months later as recovery can take a long time.
Some skills are more common than others, so for general volunteering positions, organisations will usually try to contact people who live close to the affected community. Similarly, if a required skill is less common, they may have to request volunteers from further afield. Emergency sites, such as remote locations, often do not have accommodation for volunteers that travel to get there so it is important to make sure you are going where you are needed so you can be most effective in helping.
It all depends on when and where an emergency happens, and what kind of recovery activities are being planned by an affected community.
When you have been allocated a specific volunteering position, there will be a contact name and number in case of emergencies or non-attendance. Please contact that person or organisation and advise of your situation as soon as possible.
It will be up to the organisation you are volunteering through to determine if you can bring your own equipment and supplies to assist, so it is best to ask them directly in advance. Different sorts of equipment may be needed depending on the disaster-affected area and the organisation needing help. We also recommend that if using your own equipment you clarify with the organisation in advance whether or not your property will be covered by their insurance. While you should be covered, your equipment may not be.
There are many varied things! Every emergency and recovery process is different. Depending on the emergency preparation, relief and recovery requirements, some of the most common activities that organisations may need volunteers to help with could include:
- Manual labour to clean up parks, buildings, and public areas after bushfires
- Administration and logistical support
- Receiving and sorting donated household goods and food
- Cleaning, cooking and catering assistance
Emergency volunteers will not be sent to any areas or activities where there is a known threat or danger.
They will only be called upon to assist before a disaster in the preparation phase or during the community recovery phase (after the immediate response phase once the danger has passed). In the recovery phase affected communities may need volunteer assistance for many weeks or months – sometimes even years – after the emergency has passed.
Emergency services organisations deploy highly trained and skilled staff and volunteers to respond to immediate emergencies. Some of these agencies offer ongoing volunteering positions, such as DFES, SES and Red Cross. Please contact these organisations directly should you wish to register your interest with them to become an ongoing volunteer.
You should definitely count on bringing sunscreen, insect repellent, water, snacks, sunglasses and closed in shoes. Make sure any scratches on your skin are covered with band-aids to prevent infection. When you are contacted to volunteer the organisation should let you know exactly what you will need. Please do not bring pets, personal belongings or anything of value.
That will depend on the volunteering activity and the host organisation as their insurance will need to cover everyone volunteering. When they contact you, they will be able to answer that question specifically for that event. Please note, many insurance companies will not cover children under age 16. You should always check with the host organisation before bringing children with you.
In order for organisations to request volunteers through the Volunteering peak body in your State/Territory they must provide proof of insurance. This means when you arrive for your volunteering activity you will be greeted and supervised by someone from the organisation you have been placed with.
You'll be covered by that organisation's insurance policies, and you'll need to follow their guidance and directions. Sometimes these may be provided to you by the organisation by email prior, and some might just give them to you on the day.
Make sure you ask the supervisor if you have any questions about the organisation's processes, or your rights and responsibilities.
That's great! Please visit volunteeringwa.org.au to search for positions that suit you. Please note that by applying for positions listed you agree to the organisation contacting you.
Front line volunteering
Those who would like to become front line volunteers to help with speciality skills usually require additional training and coordination.
If you would like to help this way, make contact with your state's SES, Red Cross or rural fire response service.