Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the questions that we are often asked by people who are thinking of becoming emergency volunteers with Emergency Volunteering CREW (EV CREW). If you have any further questions, please ask us in the comments box below.
Do I need to take time off work to be an emergency volunteer?
No, that’s not necessary.
Emergency volunteers may be needed for all types of jobs at various times during the week. It depends on when the community organisation has requested extra hands to help. Frequently the assistance is required over weekends.
Depending on the size of the disaster, there could be different shifts over a number of days and you may be able to help out at one time but not at other times, depending on your availability.
If emergency volunteers are needed in your area, our EV CREW staff member may contact you to see if you are free to help out during the times scheduled.
Should you want to help during your working hours, have a talk to you employer before a disaster is expected to see if your employer is prepared to support your volunteering in this way.
Do I need to do training to become an emergency volunteer?
When you register with EV CREW as an emergency volunteer, you will be asked to list the skills you can offer. You may only be contacted if your particular skills are requested by the community organisation needing extra help.
That particular community organisation will then ensure you receive any induction or orientation necessary before you start the role.
How much time do I need to give to be an emergency volunteer?
The length of time and amount of assistance will depend on you, the size of the disaster and the amount of extra help the community organisation requesting assistance might need. Shifts may be a minimum of 3 hours, a full day or even several days.
If you are contacted, our EV CREW staff member will discuss with you the shifts available and you can then choose to help for the length of time that suits you.
Could I be asked to help anywhere in the ACT – or even other states?
Usually you will only be called to assist in your local area or in an area that you can drive to relatively easily. This minimises unnecessary traffic congestion on already disrupted roads.
Similarly accommodation in an affected area may not be readily available after a disaster because it is needed by those who were forced to leave their homes as a result of the disaster.
What happens after I’ve registered?
In an emergency, an affected organisation might ask EV CREW for extra volunteers to help with specific recovery activities. This will most likely be a not-for-profit organisation or local community group, or possibly a government agency or local council.
We will search our registered volunteers whose skills and availability match the needs of that organisation – then we call those EV CREW volunteers to offer them a specific volunteering time.
If you have confirmed that you will attend, EV CREW will then provide your contact details to the organisation managing that activity. You will receive a confirmation email from us containing all the details about the activity. Sometimes the particular organisation might also contact you directly before the activity.
I have registered and have not been called up for an emergency, am I still needed?
Even with an emergency happening in the ACT, you may or may not be required. It depends on your location, skills and availability and the needs of a community’s request of volunteers. It is worth noting that this may be weeks or months after the emergency that you may be required.
Some skills are more common than others, so for general volunteering opportunities, we will usually try and contact people who live close to the affected community. Similarity if a required skill is less common, we may have to request volunteers from further afield.
It all depends on when and where an emergency happens, and what kind of recovery activities are being planned by an affected community. Some people who register as EV CREW volunteers may not hear from us for many months. It is therefore important to keep your contact details up-to-date.
If I have agreed to volunteer for the day – but at the last minute I cannot make it. What do I do?
When you have been allocated a specific volunteering opportunity, there will be a contact name and number in case of emergencies or non-attendance. Please contact that person or organisation and advise of your situation as soon as possible.
I have equipment that can be used in a recovery. Can that be used?
Different sorts of equipment may be needed depending on the disaster-affected area and the organisation needing help. You can include any equipment when you register so we then know what may be available.
What kind of jobs do EV CREW volunteers do?
There are many varied things! Every emergency is different, and you never know what may be needed. Depending on the emergency preparation, relief and recovery requirements, some of the most common activities that organisations may need volunteers to help with could include:
- Manual labour to clean up parks, buildings, and public areas after floods or bushfires
- Administration and logistical support
- Receiving and sorting donated household goods and food
- Cleaning, cooking and catering assistance
More specific skills such as professional trades, project management, livestock or animal welfare assistance may also be required. When registering, please tell us about any unique skills or qualifications you can offer.
What jobs don’t EV CREW volunteers do?
EV CREW volunteers will not be sent to any areas or activities where there is a known threat or danger.
They will only be called upon to assist before a disaster in the preparation phase or after the immediate response phase once the danger has passed. In the recovery phase affected communities may need volunteer assistance for many weeks or months – sometimes even years – after the emergency has passed.
Some of these agencies offer ongoing volunteering opportunities, such as the ACT Rural Fire Service and the State Emergency Services. Please contact these organisations directly should you wish to register your interest with them.
What if I’m not sure of my availability in an emergency?
If needed we will contact you to determine if you can attend the opportunity at that particular time. You can continue to be registered with us even if you cannot participate this time around.
What if I have goods such as clothes, food or money I want to donate to disaster affected areas?
In an emergency, there will be specific organisations allocated by the state or local governments where goods and financial donations can be sent to. Previously these have included GIVIT, Australian Red Cross, Lifeline and The Salvation Army.
What should or shouldn’t I bring on the day of my volunteering?
You should definitely count on bringing sunscreen, insect repellent, water, snacks, sunglasses and closed in shoes. Make sure any scratches on your skin are covered with band-aids to prevent infection.
When we call you to volunteer we will let you know exactly what you will need.
Please do not bring pets.
Can I bring my older children along as well?
That will depend on the volunteering activity and the host organisation. When we call you, we will be able to answer that question specifically for that event.
Will I be covered by insurance when I volunteer?
EV CREW volunteers are placed with requesting organisations needing extra help. This means you will be greeted and supervised by someone from that particular organisation when you arrive for your volunteering activity.
You’ll be covered by that organisation’s insurance policies, and you’ll need to follow their guidance and directions. Sometimes these may be provided to you by the organisation by email prior, and some might just give them to you on the day.
Make sure you ask the supervisor if you have any questions about the organisation’s processes, or your rights and responsibilities.
Can I unregister if I change my mind?
I have an interest in other areas apart from just emergency volunteering. Where can I look for other opportunities?
For general volunteering opportunities please visit Volunteering ACT.