Could our organisation be liable for discrimination if we refuse an applicant for a voluntary role because we think they can’t perform the tasks associated with the role?

No organisation is required to take on a prospective volunteer for a role that they believe they are unable to perform. But, as with paid staff, problems can arise if a person applying for a volunteer role feels treated unfairly on the basis of a personal characteristic covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic).

To ensure that you don’t risk discriminating against potential volunteers, it is good practice to draft a volunteer position description prior to recruiting for a volunteer role. As you would do when recruiting for paid positions, ensure that any requirements relate to the skills and experience needed for the role and avoid references to attributes under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) which a person may or may not have, for example, gender or age. 

If you need more information, please contact the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
Enquiry Line: 1300 292 153
Telephone: 1300 891 848
Fax: 1300 891 858
TTY: 1300 289 621

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