Table 4.3: Workers’ compensation coverage for volunteers


Workers’ compensation coverage for volunteers

New South Wales


  • A person who voluntarily and without obligation engages in any ambulance work with the consent of or under the authority and supervision of or in cooperation with the Health Administration Corporation constituted by the Health Administration Act 1982Schedule 1Workplace Injury Management and Workers Compensation Act 1998.
  • A person who voluntarily and without obligation engages in fighting a bush fire in any fire district constituted under the Fire Brigades Act 1989 or is undergoing training for the purposes of fighting bush fires in those circumstances — Schedule 1, 1998 Act.
  • A person who meets the definition of volunteer contained under the Workers Compensation (Bush Fire, Emergency and Rescue Services) Act 1987 i.e. Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service, Surf Life Saving, Volunteer Rescue Association and Marine Rescue Service.



Under certain Acts, volunteers assisting Government Agencies are entitled to compensation in accordance with the Workplace Injury Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2013 if injured while carrying out specified duties. Volunteers covered include:

  • volunteer auxiliary workers, officers and volunteer members of the Country Fire Authority (Country Fire Authority Act 1956)
  • volunteer emergency workers (Emergency Management Act 1986)
  • volunteers assisting police officers (Police Assistance Compensation Act 1968)
  • volunteer school workers or volunteer student workers (Education Training and Reform Act 2006)
  • jurors (Juries Act 2000)
  • volunteers in prisons and offenders working or participating in a program under a Correctional Order (Sentencing Act 1991 or Corrections Act 1986), and
  • registered and casual emergency workers (Victorian State Emergency Service Act 2005Emergency Management Act 1986).



Workers’ compensation coverage may extend to the following volunteers if WorkCover has entered into a contract of insurance with the responsible authority/person/charitable institution/not-for-profit organisation:

  • particular persons under Disaster Management Act 2003
  • volunteer fire fighter or volunteer fire warden honorary ambulance officers
  • rural fire brigade member
  • person in voluntary or honorary position with religious, charitable or benevolent organisation
  • person in voluntary or honorary position with non-profit organisation, and
  • persons performing community service or unpaid duties.


Western Australia

No provision under the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981.

Some volunteers are covered for personal injury under private insurance.

South Australia

Schedule 1 of the Return to Work 2014 establishes the Crown as the presumptive employer of volunteers as prescribed by the regulations and members of the SA Country Fire Service.

Regulation 69 prescribes South Australian State Emergency Services, marine rescue members and volunteer fire-fighters as a class of person covered by the Act.





  • Volunteers performing police operations — s6A
  • Volunteers performing fire-fighting operations and fire prevention operations — s5
  • Volunteers providing ambulance services — s6
  • Volunteers performing work of a prescribed class which is of benefit to the State — s6B (none are currently prescribed for the purpose of this section), Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.
  • Volunteer emergency management workers participating in emergency management or rescue and retrieval operations as defined under the Emergency Management Act 2006 S56(2).


Northern territory



Australian Capital Territory


  • s17A — an individual who is engaged to perform work for someone else, and receives no payment for the work.
  • Commercial voluntary workers (e.g. volunteer marshals at an event run by a corporation incorporated under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth)).
  • Public interest voluntary workers.


C’wealth Comcare


  • CSIRO — volunteer fellows.
  • Volunteers who assist in the running of the:
  • Australian National Gallery
  • Australian War Memorial
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens
  • Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Australian Nature Conservation Agency
  • National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon) National Museum of Australia, and
  • Old Parliament House.
  • Volunteers in connection with Australian Film, Television and Radio School
  • Volunteers in connection with lighthouse keeping on Maatsuyker Island
  • Volunteers in relation to search and rescue services and training exercises provided by Australian Maritime Safety Authority
  • Volunteers who participate in recruit training exercise for the Australian Protective Service
  • Volunteers promoting the House of Representatives and the Parliament to the community
  • Volunteers providing firefighting, search and rescue and first aid services, attending environmental incidents and taking part in training exercises for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority
  • Volunteers assisting the Department of the Environment and Heritage (excluding the Bureau of Meteorology) and the Director of National Parks
  • Volunteers assisting the National Capital Authority in fostering an awareness of Canberra as the National Capital
  • Volunteers assisting in the administration of the CHOGM 2001, 2002
  • Volunteers assisting the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust
  • Volunteers assisting in APEC 2007
  • Others as declared from time to time by the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988.


C’wealth Seacare


C’wealth DVA

Volunteers can be covered by the MRCA (s8) or DRCA (s5) if they are the subject of a Ministerial declaration under the DRCA or MRCA which states that they are to be taken to be members of the Defence Force. This generally only occurs where the volunteers operated under the control and direction of the Australian Defence Force as if they were members of the Australian Defence Force.