Amy will be presenting two workshops at the Conference: “We’re all in this together – workers in community organisations and the laws that govern them” and ” Duty calls – Board responsibilities and stewardship”.

Presentation Title: We’re all in this together – workers in community organisations and the laws that govern them

There are many ‘working relationships’ that exist in the not-for-profit world – paid and unpaid. Volunteer, employee and independent contractor are just some of the examples.  In reality, these working relationships are not static, and it is rare to have only one type of worker in a community organisation. Instead these categories of working relationships co-exist, and very often chop and change, blend and intersect with each other.  In the for-profit world, workers are most commonly employees or independent contractors. In the not-for-profit world, any one community organisation could have a mix of: 

  • spontaneous volunteers
  • traditional volunteers
  • online or micro volunteers
  • court ordered or mutual obligation volunteers
  • vocational volunteers
  • vocational placements
  • paid or unpaid internships
  • work experience
  • work trials
  • employees
  • independent contractors
  • employees or independent contractors who also volunteer for the organisation

Not-for-profit organisations thrive on the combined skills and experience that this diverse range of working relationships can bring to their teams. But, when it comes to the law, there’s a number of key legal differences between these different categories of workers that are important to take note of – particularly when workers fit into more categories than one. 

Volunteer-involving organisations must be across these differences to ensure they are agile and able to meet the challenges of current and emerging trends in contemporary volunteering.

In this session we will cover: 

  • the key legal differences between an employee, a contractor and a volunteer
  • the legal status of other forms of unpaid work, such as court ordered volunteers, mutual obligation volunteers, interns and student placements
  • why the differences matter
  • what your organisation can do to make sure it complies with the la

This interactive session is suitable for board members, management and volunteer co-ordinators and managers.

Presentation Title: Duty calls – Board responsibilities and stewardship

Many not-for-profit community organisations choose not to pay their board members. In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors, in 2018 only 18% of not-for-profit board members were paid director’s fees.

This means that the majority of not-for-profit board members are volunteers – volunteering their time, experience and expertise to governing, overseeing the affairs of and making strategic decisions for an organisation, without the expectation of payment. 

This places volunteer board members in a unique positon – they are volunteers themselves and by virtue of their role in governing the organisation, they are also the leaders and stewards of volunteering within their organisation.

Volunteer board members are also in a unique legal position: 

  • Volunteer board members must act in the best interests of the organisation and comply with legal duties and responsibilities. They otherwise risk personal liability, however, unlike paid board members receive no financial compensation for the responsibility or time involved in being a board member.
  • In some cases, the protection from personal liability afforded to volunteer board members is different to paid board members.
  • Payment to a board member can affect the volunteer nature of the relationship between the organisation and the board member. 

In order to protect the unique position of board members as volunteers and the leaders and stewards of volunteering within their organisation, we must also ensure that volunteer board members understand their unique legal position. 

This session will cover: 

  • the legal duties of board members
  • the differences between paid and volunteer board members and why the distinction can be important
  • how payments to board members can impact the nature of the volunteer relationship
  • the legal protections for a volunteer board member if they breach a duty or responsibility and practical steps that board members can take to protect themselves

This workshop is suitable for board and committee of management members of not-for-profit organisations. 


Amy is admitted to practice as a solicitor in NSW and regularly provides legal advice, training and assistance to community organisations across Australia on various legal issues, including managing volunteers. Recently Amy was involved in the development of Not-for-profit Law’s National Guide to Volunteering, and web-based application designed to help organisations understand their legal obligations when managing volunteers.  Amy is also a former social worker with experience in the community sector, including working with and managing volunteers.