education.vic.gov.au

School Community Work

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools

Date:
February 2020

Policy

Policy

This policy sets out the requirements for students undertaking school community work.

Summary

  • Students may participate in school community work, if it is on a voluntary basis.
  • Students must not receive any remuneration or reward for this work.
  • The community must directly benefit from the school community work.
  • Schools offering school community work opportunities to students must follow the guidance on school community work, available on the Guidance tab, to ensure any arrangements meet legislative and Department policy requirements.

Details

School community work/volunteering work is community work undertaken by students which:

  • supports students' learning and career development
  • directly benefits the community
  • is organised by the school
  • is approved by the principal of the school as school community work

Students must undertake school community work voluntarily and they must not receive any remuneration or reward for this work.

School Community Work Arrangements

All school community work arrangements must comply with the Department policy and guidance and the relevant arrangement forms must be used, available on the Resources tab.

Child Safe Standards

To create and maintain a child safe organisation, all Victorian schools must comply with Ministerial Order 870 — Child Safe Standards.

Child Safe Standard 6 requires schools to develop and implement risk management strategies to ensure students’ safety in the school environment.

The school environment includes workplace learning environments where students undertake:

  • work experience
  • structured workplace learning
  • school community work/volunteering, and
  • School Based Apprenticeships and Traineeships

For more information, visit the Department PROTECT page.

Definitions

School community work
Community work undertaken by a student which

  • supports their learning and career development
  • directly benefits the community
  • is organised by the school, and
  • is approved by the principal of the school as school community work

Relevant legislation


Guidance

Guidance for school community work

This guidance contains the following chapters:

  • Overview
  • Definitions under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006
  • What is school community work?
  • Host organisations than can offer school community work
  • Age of volunteer student workers
  • Duty of care and school community work
  • Assessment of a host organisation's suitability
  • Assessment of the host organisation's induction and supervision arrangements
  • Appropriateness of tasks and settings
  • Student understanding of OHS requirements
  • Hours and duration of school community work
  • Travel arrangements
  • Parent/carer approval
  • Victorian government school arrangement form for school community work
  • Student medical information
  • Addressing issues and concerns during school community work
  • Insurance for school community work

Overview

Overview

The Department supports student participation in school community work and recognises its benefits for both individuals and communities. School community work enhances learning and career development, and enables students to:

  • develop employability skills
  • explore possible career options
  • connect to and better understand their community
  • increase self-understanding, maturity, independence and self-confidence

This Guidance and accompanying forms and resources have been developed to help Victorian government schools with organising school community work placements and with protecting the health, safety and welfare of volunteer student workers. We encourage Victorian government schools to refer to these resources when arranging school community work for their students.


Definitions under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006

Definitions under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006

Section 5.6.1 of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) defines:

  • volunteer student worker as ‘a person who, without remuneration or reward, voluntarily engages in approved community work’
  • approved community work as ‘community work engaged in by a student of a registered school and approved by the principal of the school as school community work’

What is school community work?

What is school community work?

School community work is community work by a student that:

  • supports the student’s learning and career development
  • directly benefits the community
  • is organised by the school
  • is undertaken voluntarily by the student, and
  • is approved by the principal of the school as school community work

School community work is not work experience or structured workplace learning.

Work experience is the short-term placement of a secondary school student with an employer to provide insights into an industry and the workplace. Students are placed with employers primarily to observe and learn — not to undertake activities that require extensive training or experience.

Structured workplace learning is structured on-the-job training in a workplace during which students are expected to master an identified set of skills and competencies related to a course accredited by the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA).

School community work is voluntary

Students should volunteer or willingly engage in school community work Schools can encourage but not compel students to do school community work.

Students must do school community work without payment or reward for their work.

School community work undertaken by students should be linked to their school curriculum (for example Victorian Curriculum F-10, Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE), Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL) and Vocational Education and Training (VET)  delivered to secondary students or International Baccalaureate).

Schools should consider ways in which their volunteer student workers can capture their learning from their school community work placement — such as via:

  • journals
  • log books
  • presentation back at school assignments
  • blogs
  • wikis
  • or podcasts

Host organisations that can offer school community work

Host organisations that can offer school community work

Students can do school community work at the following organisations:

  • not-for-profit organisations
  • community organisations whose work directly benefits the community
  • any organisation — including a business, trade, or occupation that is run for profit:
    • where the school community work would directly benefit the community, and
    • whose employees would not be replaced by the volunteer student workers

Age of volunteer student workers

Age of volunteer student workers

For schools seeking to offer school community work opportunities to students, the Department  recommends that these opportunities are considered for students aged 14 years and over — Year 9.

For students younger than 15 years who wish to do school community work, principals must consider the following:

  • the maturity, capability and suitability of the student for school community work
  • whether additional supervision or other safety measures are required
  • compliance with the Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic)

If the student is younger than 15 and is undertaking school community work at a host organisation that runs a business, trade or occupation for profit, the organisation will be subject to the Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic).

Such organisations must have a Child Employment Permit and follow other requirements, such as supervising, record keeping and providing restricted hours and times of work — refer to the Hours and duration of school community work chapter of this Guidance.

Such organisations must not take on a student younger than 13 years of age in school community work. For more information on getting a Child Employment Permit, visit Business Victoria or contact Workforce Victoria on 1800 287 287.

If the host organisation is a not-for-profit, they do not need a child employment permit.


Duty of care and school community work

Duty of care and school community work

Schools have a general duty of care to take reasonable steps to protect their students from any reasonably foreseeable injury. This duty extends beyond school grounds to include school-approved activities such as school community work. In order to fulfil their duty of care in these circumstances, schools should address all the matters in sections one to 10 outlined below to reduce the risk of injury to students.

The principal is responsible for managing the risks of school community work. Schools must take all reasonable steps to ensure that volunteer student workers are safe when participating in with host organisations.

For more information on risk management, see Risk Management in Schools.


Assessment of a host organisation’s suitability

Assessment of a host organisation’s suitability

In its duty of care to its students, a school must be satisfied that the host organisation will provide a safe and suitable workplace for its students.

Under Victorian Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation and standards, employers must provide and maintain a safe working environment for their employees and volunteers. More information is available at the WorkSafe Victoria website.

The school must be satisfied that the host organisation understands OHS legislation and standards and complies with them to make sure students are safe when doing school community work.

The school must ensure that the host organisation does the following:

The school will work with the host organisation, where reasonably practicable, to ensure that risks are reduced — for example by:

  • providing relevant information about the students
  • having students complete an OHS program prior to the placement

The school must review the completed Risk Assessment Form for school community work with the host organisation. The school must be satisfied that risk management strategies will be implemented to control any identified hazards and potential risks before approving the placement. The principal must sign the form and keep it at the school for a minimum of 7 years.


Assessment of the host organisation’s induction and supervision arrangements

Assessment of the host organisation’s induction and supervision arrangements

The school must make sure that the host organisation will:

  • give the student an induction to the organisation and the workplace
  • provide a competent supervisor who will appropriately supervise the student to make sure the student does the tasks safely, and
  • make sure that staff members supervising the student has a valid Working with Children Check where the student is under 15 years of age, and 
  • give a copy of all required Working with Children Checks to the school before the placement begins

For further information on obtaining a Working with Children Check, visit Working with Children Check Victoria.


Appropriateness of tasks and settings

Appropriateness of tasks and settings

The school must ensure that the tasks and settings of a particular school community work are appropriate for the student and unlikely to harm the student's health, safety, moral or material welfare or development. In doing so, the school should consider:

  • the student's age, maturity, competency, and physical and emotional development
  • the nature and management of the school community work or activity
  • the nature and environment of the workplace where the school community work is to be performed

For example, the following types of work or activities are likely to harm a student's health or safety unless the risk of harm is managed or minimised:

  • repetitive bending, twisting or lifting
  • manual lifting of heavy items
  • working with or near cooking equipment, or any other equipment that involves unsafe temperatures
  • working with sharp instruments, power-operated tools or other dangerous equipment
  • working near moving vehicles
  • working at heights
  • working with uncontrolled animals
  • working in extreme weather conditions

For more information about age-appropriate tasks and settings for volunteer student workers, refer to Work Experience.

In addition, the Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic) prohibits the employment of a child:

  • in door-to-door selling
  • on a fishing boat, other than a boat operating on inland waters
  • on a building or construction site — whether commercial or residential, at any time before the buildings on the site are at lock-up stage

Regardless of whether or not the student volunteer is covered by the Child Employment Act, students must not undertake these activities when participating in school community work.


Student understanding of OHS requirements

Student understanding of OHS requirements

Prior to commencing school community work, the student should successfully complete an OHS program recommended by the Department and relevant to the industry in which they are placed.

The Department recommends the following OHS programs:

  • safe@work
  • OHS modules in the student’s VET course that are relevant to the placement
  • VCAL Work Related Skills Unit 1
  • the Workplace Learning Toolbox — a resource that provides young people with information about the world of work

The school should also ensure that its volunteer student workers have been given appropriate information on workplace discrimination, bullying and harassment by the host organisation.


Hours and duration of school community work

Hours and duration of school community work

School community work should be undertaken within Victorian school term dates as determined by the Minister for Education.

It should also be undertaken within school hours, unless the host organisation is:

  • a business, trade or occupation run for profit, and
  • subject to the Child Employment Act 2003 (Vic)

The duration of school community work must be approved by the principal and should not affect the student’s schoolwork, health, safety or welfare.

The Department does not recommend that school community work be performed outside school hours and/or outside the dates of the Victorian school term. However, if this is to occur, the student’s parent/carer must be consulted and, before approving the placement, the principal must be satisfied that:

  • there is an appropriate school staff member who will be the contact person during the time that school community work is to be carried out
  • all matters raised in this guidance material have been properly addressed

If the principal is not satisfied that these matters can be properly addressed, the principal should not consent to the school community work arrangement.

Any school community work not approved by the principal becomes a volunteering arrangement that is entirely the responsibility of the student and their parent/carer. In such cases, the principal should clearly communicate to the student and their parent/carer that this is the case.

Students under 15 years of age

If the student is younger than 15 and the host organisation is a business, trade or occupation run for profit, the Child Employment Act 2003 imposes the following restrictions:

  • a maximum of 3 hours per day and 12 hours per week of school community work at any time during school term
  • if school community work is undertaken outside of school term, it must not exceed 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week
  • school community work must not start earlier than 6am or sunrise — whichever is the later, and
  • school community work must not be carried out later than 6pm or sunset — whichever is the earlier, if it involves street trading, or 9pm in any other case

If the student is younger than 15, the host organisation is not-for-profit and the school community work is undertaken in a public place — including door-to-door fundraising, the work must not:

  • start earlier than 6am or sunrise — whichever is the later
  • conclude later than 6pm or sunset — whichever is the earlier, unless the student is accompanied by an adult

The host organisation must supervise the student at all times during school community work, regardless of the location, time and/or nature of the school community work, as written on the Victorian Government School Arrangement Form for School Community Work.

The requirement for student supervision applies equally to for-profit and not-for-profit organisations.


Travel arrangements

Travel arrangements

Travel to and from school community work

The parent/carer, student and principal must approve any travel arrangements to and from the school community work and this must be written in the Timetable of school community work form. The student’s parent/carer must inform the principal in writing that they will be responsible for the student’s transport to and/or from the workplace if the school community work placement is done outside school hours and/or outside a Victorian school term.

Travel during school community work

It is not recommended that students travel between work locations in the course of school community work, but if this is to occur, the parent/carer must be informed of, and give their consent to their child travelling in a vehicle with the host organisation or nominated workplace supervisor(s) of the host organisation.

The school must also make reasonable enquiries to determine the appropriateness of the travel arrangements, including requesting the proposed driver complete the statutory declaration for transporting a volunteer student worker during school community work formthat attests:

  • the driver has a current and valid Australian driver’s licence — a copy must be provided 
  • the driver is not disqualified or suspended from driving
  • the driver’s ability to drive a motor vehicle is not impeded or impaired
  • the vehicle used to transport the student is comprehensively insured
  • the vehicle is, to the driver’s knowledge, roadworthy, safe for normal road use and suitable for the work-related purposes, and
  • the driver has a valid Working with Children Check — a copy must be provided 

For more information on work-related driving, please refer to WorkSafe Victoria guides on:


Parent/carer approval

Parent/carer approval

The parent/carer must be provided with relevant details about the nature of the activity and the host organisation’s arrangements for supervising the student, including details of travel arrangements.

The parent/carer must approve and consent to the following:

  • their child to undertake school community work
  • their child travelling in a vehicle with the host organisation or nominated workplace supervisor(s) of the host organisation
  • the travel arrangements for their child for travel to and from the placement
  • the school providing their child’s personal and health information — relevant to the school community work, to the host organisation

Schools must use the Victorian government school arrangement form for school community use and the Confidential Medical Information Form for School Community Work to obtain parent/carer approval and consent. See the following chapters or the Resources tab for copies of these forms.


Victorian government school arrangement form for school community work

Victorian government school arrangement form for school community work

The principal is responsible for ensuring that a full record of the school community work arrangements is kept. There must be clear and complete records on:

  • name and age of the student
  • emergency contact details
  • name and address of the host organisation
  • name(s) of person(s) at the host organisation who will supervise the student
  • the activities the student will undertake
  • a timetable for the school community work that is agreed upon and signed by the student’s parent/carer, the student and the principal. This timetable must clearly state:
    • whether the student is going to and from school community work and home or school each day
    • the mode(s) of transport to and from the school community work and who will be responsible for transporting the student — for example, parent/carer driver, school-arranged transport, the student themselves (if using public transport)
    • start and finish times for school community work
    • time of departure from student’s location of origin to school community work each day
    • time of arrival at the final destination after leaving school community work each day

All parties must sign a completed Victorian Government School Arrangement Form for school community work  before starting the school community work.

The school must keep the following forms for a minimum of five years (Public Records Act 1975) or otherwise as required by legislation:

The school must provide a copy of the completed Victorian Government School Arrangement Form for school community work to the parent/carer and host organisation.

If the student is injured during school community work, or the school is aware of any complaints arising from the student's school community work, records should be kept for longer than the minimum period. In such cases, the principal should contact archives and records staff in the Department’s Executive Coordination Unit on (03) 9637 3306 or archives.records@education.vic.gov.au for advice.


Student medical information

Student medical information

The school should have up-to-date medical information on students who participate in school community work.

The parent/carer must inform the school of any known medical condition, including any relevant medication or treatment that may affect their child.

Prior to the student commencing school community work, the school should request that the parent/carer provide a completed Confidential Medical Information Form for school community work that the school can use in the event of an emergency.

The school should pass on the information provided in the form to the host organisation, once the parent/carer has given consent.

The school should determine whether the host organisation can cater for the student’s requirements if the student has a medical condition, disability or special needs.

Under anti-discrimination law, the school has a legal obligation to consult the host organisation, the student and their parent/carer about any adjustments that can be made within reason to enable the student to participate in school community work.


Addressing issues and concerns during school community work

Addressing issues and concerns during school community work

The student should be provided with the details of a person at the school who they can contact if they have any issues or concerns during their school community work. The school contact person should be available by telephone while the school community work is taking place.

The school contact person will be responsible for managing any issues that arise — including issues that may require termination of school community work.


Insurance for school community work arrangements

Insurance for school community work arrangements

Public liability insurance

The Departments Public Insurance extends to school activities that take place off school premises, provided that the school is organising the activity.

The Department’s public liability insurance applies when the Department, its employees or volunteers are legally liable for claims for:

  • death or injury of people who are not employees or volunteers (WorkSafe covers employees and volunteers)
  • death or injury during school activities on and outside school premises, provided that the school is organising the activity or is responsible for supervising students
  • damage to or destruction of other people’s property
  • injury or damage to third parties caused through student negligence during work experience or structured workplace learning

The Department’s public liability insurance does not provide cover:

  • for external providers or managers of external facilities against any liability that these providers/managers may incur
  • where there is no legal liability to do so for accidental injury to or damage to property of students or members of the public

For further information, refer to: Insurance for Schools.

You may also wish to contact the Department’s Insurance Unit on (03) 9637 5355 for further advice concerning public liability insurance.

WorkSafe insurance

Section 5.6.2(2) of the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) provides that:

If a volunteer student worker suffers personal injury arising out of or in the course of approved community work the:

a) worker is entitled to be paid compensation

b) worker’s partner or any child or dependant of the worker is entitled to be paid compensation, if the worker dies.

The Department has insurance to cover this eventuality.

 


Resources


Reviewed 24 March 2020