Our insurance will only cover volunteers up to the age of 70. Are we liable for discrimination if we don’t take on volunteers over 70?

Age discrimination is prohibited under Part 4 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic). This provision applies to volunteers in a range of areas including club membership, sporting activities and provision of goods and services. Where a volunteer-involving organisation or volunteering opportunity is covered by the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic), the provisions relating to age discrimination will apply.

It’s generally regarded as best practice for volunteer-involving organisations to have personal accident insurance for volunteers, however some insurance companies won’t extend this insurance to volunteers over a certain age. This may be discriminatory.

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) contains an exception allowing insurance companies to discriminate in the provision of insurance or on the terms on which an insurance policy is offered if certain factors apply. It is up to the insurer in the case of a complaint to prove that the exception applies. If not, the insurer may be found liable for discrimination. This exception only deals with the liability of the insurance company in offering the product.

In the case of a complaint in which a volunteer was excluded from a volunteering opportunity because the organisation’s insurance would not cover them, the organisation may be liable for discrimination if the decision to exclude them was not found to be reasonable.

Before excluding older volunteers because your insurance won’t cover them, it is advisable for your organisation to make reasonable efforts to obtain insurance that will cover older volunteers. 

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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