Landcare & environmental volunteering

Overview

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An environmental volunteer group is a group of people who work together to conserve native plants and/or animals, reserves, parklands, bushlands, roadsides and waterways on public or private land.

The activities of each group are highly varied and may consist of collaborating with schools, grant writing, festival/event attendance, community education, weed control, habitat restoration, flora and fauna surveys, seed collecting, plant propagation and revegetation.

Learn more about environmental volunteering from some of our volunteers in the video below.

Yarra Ranges Council is committed to creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for all volunteers. There are many different roles volunteers can participate in that work to protect nature. If you have any accessibility needs, questions or concerns please contact environmentalvolunteers@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.

 

Join or start a group

There are many benefits of being an environmental volunteer including:

  • learn about the environment
  • gain new skills
  • develop a sense of community and/or achievement
  • improved physical and mental health wellness
  • make new friends

View the full list of environmental groups operating throughout Victoria here, or by clicking on the image below. 

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Environmental groups within the Yarra Ranges generally fall into two groups – Landcare Groups or Friends Groups.

Friends Groups

Friends groups operate independently and autonomously with support from Council which includes pick up and disposal of weeds, financial assistance for supplies, training and events.

Visit the Victorian Environment Friends Network to find local friends groups and members.

Landcare Groups

Landcare is a joint effort between the community, government and business to protect and repair our environment. Find out more about Landcare Groups.

How to Start a Group

If you know of a reserve or green space that isn’t being looked after by an existing group and you want to start your own contact the Environmental Volunteer Support Officer on 1300 333 368 or email environmentalvolunteers@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.

Guidelines

All volunteers must adhere to guidelines set by Yarra Ranges Council. Download a copy of Environmental Volunteer Guidelines (PDF, 4MB) or request a hard copy by emailing environmentalvolunteers@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.

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Existing Environmental Volunteers

Volunteer Code of Conduct

The Environmental Volunteer Code of Conduct aims to ensure we are providing a healthy and supportive environment for our volunteers to operate within. The Code of Conduct establishes the standards and behaviours that must be demonstrated by any person who represents Yarra Ranges Council.

Please familiarise yourself with the Environmental Volunteer Code of Conduct by clicking on the boxes below. For further advice and assistance, please contact the Yarra Ranges Council Parks and Bushland team. 

Preface

We greatly value the contribution that our volunteers make to our environment and the amenity of the parks and reserves within the Yarra Ranges. Without the involvement of our volunteers, maintaining our open space network and the community connection to these spaces would be considerably more challenging.

In order to ensure we create a healthy space for our volunteers, Council staff and the broader community to engage, it is important that there is a common understanding of expected behaviours.

We have developed an Environmental Volunteer Code of Conduct to establish what we can expect of each other. Our Code of Conduct sets out the standards and behaviors that must be demonstrated by the following people appointed by, or representing, Yarra Ranges Council (Council), and is in line with similar Codes of Conduct in place for Council staff and Ward Councillors:

  • Volunteers with Council, including volunteers from Friends Of Groups, Landcare Groups and any other Environmental Volunteers
  • Work experience students or graduate placements who perform work for Council

Unless stated otherwise, a reference to, ‘you’, ‘your’ or ‘we’ in this document indicates all of the people listed above.

To ensure we are meeting our obligations to provide a healthy environment for all users of our open space network, all volunteer groups will need to sign the code of conduct as a condition of volunteering, and to ensure ongoing Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance can be provided by Council.

Please familiarise yourself with the Environmental Volunteer Code of Conduct and the Environmental Volunteer Guidelines, so as to ensure you are acting in accordance with these documents when conducting works on Council owned or managed land.

Advice and assistance is always available, so please don’t hesitate to contact Yarra Ranges Council’s Parks and Bushland team should you require any further information or clarification regarding your obligations under the Code of Conduct. 

Purpose of the code

The Code aims to clarify Council’s expectations of volunteers working on Council owned or managed land.

The Code will:

  • Underpin our decision-making and activities;
  • Result in effective compliance with relevant policies on how to deal with unacceptable behaviour;
  • Enhance our integrity and reputation;
  • Help to define accountability and levels of responsibility;
  • Provide guidance to enable you to solve ethical dilemmas you might face while volunteering.

Council procedures for managing a range of matters mentioned in this Code can be found on Council’s website under the Environmental Volunteers Guidelines. 

Operation of code

A representative from every volunteer group will be required to sign the Code of Conduct and provide a copy to all members of the group.

This will allow for Council to provide Public Liability Insurance and Personal Accident Insurance for groups that have signed the Code of Conduct.

Breach of the code

In line with similar Codes of Conduct in place for Council staff and Ward Councillors, a breach of this Code may constitute misconduct, which will be managed in accordance with Council’s Environmental Volunteers Guidelines.

What is expected of volunteers?

Yarra Ranges Council greatly values the contribution made by the Environmental Volunteers who work in our municipality and consider them to be valued partners in the management and enhancement of the Yarra Ranges environment. This Code of Conduct is designed to continue and improve this partnership. All environmental decisions made regarding Council land will be made in an effort to enhance biodiversity or amenity values.

  • Any work occurring on Council land must be agreed to by the relevant Bushland Management Officer.

  • All discussions, whether in person, online or on the phone, will be mutually respectful and without unnecessary anger.

  • Any language or behaviour deemed unacceptable will end the discussion until a suitable later date and, if necessary, when a mediator can be present.

  • Any grievances regarding Yarra Ranges Council’s environmental decisions must first be addressed directly to the Environmental Volunteer Support Officer, or relevant Council Officer.

  • If an issue cannot be resolved, either party may contact Council’s Team Leaders to assist.

  • Aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated.

  • Before starting any works, all groups need to obtain insurance for their activities (insurance information can be found in the Environmental Volunteers Guidelines). The Environmental Volunteer Support Officer (EVSO) and Council can assist with this so that Groups have appropriate Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance. The EVSO can provide Certificates of Currency on request.

  • Groups must abide by the terms of agreement of the insurer and must immediately inform Council if there are any changes to agreed activities. Council will then inform the insurer. The insurer is not obliged to cover updated activities. Groups will only proceed with extra activities once they have confirmation from Yarra Ranges Council.

  • Whilst working on Council owned or managed land, volunteers are expected to ensure clear, courteous communication with local residents who may be affected by, or enquiring about, volunteer activities. Volunteers are expected to provide early warning of planned activities, and always be prepared to listen attentively and respond courteously to any issues residents may raise, and be prepared to consider changing the activity in response to community feedback. If you are unable to assist a resident with their request you should refer them to the relevant Yarra Ranges Council staff member for help.

  • All works conducted on Council owned or managed land must be conducted in accordance with Council’s Environmental Volunteers Guidelines. 

Information privacy and confidentiality

All volunteers are expected to comply with the objectives and obligations prescribed in the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014, and Health Records Act 2001. In practical terms this means you should understand the importance of personal privacy and confidentiality. Personal information requires special treatment and protection, and should only be used for the work related purpose it was intended. All volunteers and environmental volunteers who provide confidential information to Council have the right to expect this information will be treated as confidential. 


Improper or undue influence by employees

At no time should you use your volunteer position at Council to improperly influence or harass other volunteers or members of the public, in order to gain an improper advantage for yourself or others. All decisions need to be seen by all as fair and transparent, based on principles of merit, equity and natural justice.

Use of Council resources

Council resources should only be used for the purpose in which they are intended and provided to you by Council. Resources must be used in accordance with the instructions and the relevant Council policy. Resources must be used in a manner that minimises risk to personal injury, reputational damage or financial cost to fix or replace items.

Please report any damaged or dangerous equipment to the Environmental Volunteer Support Officer or relevant Council Officer immediately.

Council property is to be used for work related purposes only, and must not be given away, borrowed, lent, destroyed or otherwise disposed of, unless authorised by a relevant Council Officer in accordance with our policy.


Fraudulent and corrupt activity

Volunteers must observe the highest standards of integrity in financial matters and never engage in fraudulent or corrupt activity.

Fraud is dishonest activity causing actual or financial loss to any person or entity and includes theft and misappropriation of Council assets. 

Corruption is “dishonest activity in which an employee or a contractor abuses their position of trust in order to achieve some personal gain or advantage for themselves or another person or entity.” 

Equal opportunity

Council is committed to providing all volunteers with a safe and productive environment free from discrimination, harassment and bullying. Council will not tolerate harassment, nor any action which is humiliating, intimidating or hostile. Discrimination, harassment and bullying is unlawful under both federal and state legislation and such conduct is unacceptable.

You are required to comply with Council’s Equal Opportunity Policy and Procedures, treating others with respect and not engaging in behaviour that may constitute discrimination, harassment or bullying. A breach of this policy may result in disciplinary action, including termination. Further information can be found in the Environmental Volunteers Guidelines.

Safeguarding Child Safety

All children who engage in any Council provided service or activity have the right to feel safe and to be safe. The welfare of children in Council’s care or using Council services will always be our first priority. Council aims to create a child safe and child friendly environment where children feel safe and are able to grow, develop, and have fun. All information about child safety and protocols can be found in the Environmental Volunteer Guidelines.

Health and Safety

In order to protect our own and other’s health and safety it is a requirement of all volunteers to work in accordance with the Environmental Volunteer Guidelines. 

Social media

Whether using social media for work purposes, or in a private capacity, volunteers must not do anything that might adversely affect their standing as a volunteer of Council or which could bring Council into disrepute.

Still Unsure?

Not every situation can be detailed in a Code of Conduct. This is because every situation is different. To help you assess a situation, a useful rule is – when in doubt, talk about it. If you are uncertain about any aspect of this Code please discuss this with the Yarra Ranges Council Environmental Officer responsible for your area.

List of policies, procedures and legislation linked can be found in the Environmental Volunteer Guidelines 


Environmental Volunteer Groups have a designated representative who will complete a code of conduct acceptance form. This is to ensure Public Liability and Personal Accident Insurance can be provided by Council.

Guidelines

All volunteers must adhere to guidelines set by Yarra Ranges Council. Download a copy of Environmental Volunteer Guidelines (PDF, 4MB) or request a hard copy by emailing environmentalvolunteers@yarraranges.vic.gov.au.

Child-safe Standards

In line with Yarra Ranges Council’s Child Safe Standards Policy, any volunteer who interacts with children or young people as part of their volunteering must get a Working with Children Check. This is a free and relatively easy process. Visit the Working with Children Check Victoria website [SB1] for more information. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact environmentalvolunteers@yarraranges.vic.gov.au

Mailing list

Environmental volunteers are encouraged to subscribe to our environmental newsletter mailing list so they stay informed about:

  • local environmental news
  • upcoming events
  • training opportunities

Subscribe now

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