How could the discrimination provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 apply to our volunteers?

The application of the discrimination provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) to volunteers is not straightforward.

While the discrimination provisions don’t cover volunteering as a separate area of public life, they may apply to volunteers in certain circumstances depending on the type of organisation with which they volunteer and the nature of the volunteering opportunity. Areas in which the discrimination provisions may be found to apply to volunteers include club membership, sporting activities and where goods or services are being provided.

These provisions may apply differently depending on the type of relationship an organisation has with its volunteers. For example, some organisations have a structured volunteering program, while others engage with members of the community in an ad hoc way when they offer to help out at an event or activity. An organisation with a formal relationship with its volunteers through a structured volunteer program, for example, may more likely to be considered legally responsible if one of its volunteers sexually harasses or discriminates against another person.

The discrimination provisions in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) are more likely to be found to apply to your volunteers if your organisation:

  • is a club covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic)
  • facilitates sporting activities
  • has a structured volunteering program in which volunteers are required to undertake training or skill development in order to volunteer, or gain an accreditation or professional experience as part of their volunteering, or
  • provides goods and services.

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
Email: enquiries@veohrc.vic.gov.au

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