As part of the Synod Insurance Program, a Volunteer Workers Personal Accident policy is maintained. This policy provides fixed-benefit payments to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses (excluding Medicare or Private Health Insurance 'gap' payments, which by law may only be paid by a health insurance scheme) incurred by volunteers who are injured whilst undertaking their volunteer work.
Who is covered?
For this cover to apply, church volunteers must be officially sanctioned or authorised by the Policy holder (the Synod). In our parishes, congregations and other insured entities, to be covered requires that a person must be identified or endorsed. Examples of sanctioning include:
- a person is on a official church roster
- a person holds a lay license (and met Safe Ministry requirements)
- a person is appointed to a position by the Parish Council, Warden, or minister (E.g. a maintenance person, pastoral visitor, youth group leader)
If in doubt, produce some documentation such as a letter to endorse a person to a position or role.
For volunteers who are not members of the congregation, Parish Council must still endorse the activity and the volunteer in the same way as its church volunteers for cover to apply. Importantly, whether the volunteers are church members or non church members, the responsibilities of the Parish Council for all its volunteers are the same - to provide a safe working environment (see WHS Frequently Asked Questions) and to ensure Safe Ministry requirements are adhered to.
It is recommended that Parish Councils use their discretion in nominating or sanctioning volunteers for specific church activities in order to reduce the likelihood of incidents and provide a safe working and safe ministry environment. This is particularly important where volunteers are new to the congregation or are not regularly connecting with the church leadership. In areas of ministry or roles which involve working with children, youth, vulnerable persons or church finances, and indeed for most church roles, it is wise to require that volunteers be in regular attendance for at least six months before taking up a volunteer role or position.
It is also recommended that parish councils assess whether a person is physically fit or qualified to undertake some activities such as gardening or gutter cleaning.
The role of the Parish Priest and Wardens in discerning or endorsing a person for a specific role is also key and highly recommended.
Often, parishes are approached by volunteers outside of the church membership who wish to volunteer solely to fulfil Centrelink requirements. Centrelink may require the volunteer to provide evidence that the organisation they volunteer for Volunteer Personal Accident Cover.
As above, for this insurance cover to apply in the event of a volunteer accident, Parish Councils must have already sanctioned the volunteer's role and appointment.
If a volunteer role involves or is likely to involve regular contact with children and/or vulnerable persons, volunteers must complete a Working with Children Check (and/or Vulnerable Person related Employment Check as relevant). Volunteers will need to complete the Diocese's Safe Ministry application form to commence this process.
For a Certificate of Currency for this policy, please contact Ministry & Parish Support at firstname.lastname@example.org after the Parish Council has sanctioned or authorised the volunteer's placement.