As part of the Synod Insurance Program, a Volunteer Workers Personal Accident policy is maintained. This policy provides fixed-benefit payments to cover out-of-pocket medical expenses (excluding Medicare or Private Health Insurance 'gap' payments, which by law may only be paid by a health insurance scheme) incurred by volunteers who are injured whilst undertaking their volunteer work.
For this cover to apply, church volunteers must be officially sanctioned or authorised by the Policy holder (the Synod). In our parishes, congregations and other insured entities, to be covered requires that a person must be identified or endorsed. Examples of endorsement include:
- a person is on a official church roster
- a person holds a lay license (and met Safe Ministry requirements)
- a person is appointed to a position by the Parish Council, Warden, or minister (E.g. a maintenance person, pastoral visitor, youth group leader)
If in doubt, produce some documentation such as a letter to endorse a person to a position or role.
For volunteers who are not members of the congregation, Parish Council must endorse the activity and the volunteer/s as church volunteers for cover to apply. Whether a regular church or external worker, the obligations of the Parish Council are the same, to provide a safe working environment (see WHS Frequently Asked Questions) and to adhere to the Safe Ministry requirements for all its volunteers.
Volunteers who are undertaking work to fulfil Centrelink requirements may be required to provide evidence that the organisation they work for has Volunteer Personal Accident Cover. For a Certificate of Currency for this policy, please contact Ministry & Parish Support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whilst the cover currently extends to endorsed external (non-member) church workers - such as those seeking to fulfil their Centrelink requirements - the application of the policy for this purpose may not extend in the future if the above requirements are not met. The requirement for this type of insurance cover by Centrelink appears to be a recent one and it will be important for Parish Councils to consider requiring that all endorsed volunteers undertake the Safe Ministry training and check process, or provide adequate documentation if they carry a similar child safe authority from elsewhere.