Volunteer liability and insurance

In certain circumstances, the Volunteers and Food and other Donors (Protection from Liability) Act 2002 relieves volunteers of incorporated associations from civil liability for acts done in the course of their volunteer work, and transfers that liability to the incorporated association. Generally speaking, the incorporated association will be liable for anything a volunteer does in good faith when doing work organised by the association.

An association will generally not be liable for acts of volunteers where the volunteer:

  • acts outside the scope of the work organised by the association;
  • acts contrary to instructions given by the association; or
  • is unable to do their work in a proper manner because his or her actions were significantly impaired by alcohol or non-therapeutic drugs.

The potential liability of an incorporated association under this legislation highlights how important it is for associations to have, and implement, policies in relation to volunteer work and to provide volunteers with adequate training and supervision.