Nominations for RACFs to participate close on 31 July 2022. Use the webform to nominate your facility before the deadline.

About the program

The Australian Government values the selfless contributions that volunteers have made in the aged care sector over many years of service providing companionship and emotional support to older people.

In recognition of the social isolation and loneliness aged care residents have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to address the decline in volunteers during this time, the Australian Government is encouraging the return of volunteers and encouraging new volunteers to residential aged care facilities (RACFs).

It is important for aged care residents to see visitors, such as family, friends and members of their community, such as volunteers at this challenging time.

Recent public health advice now encourages visitors and provides an opportunity for RACF’s to re-engage with volunteers to support older people, whilst managing the public health risks of COVID-19 in a safe manner. 

The program matches volunteers with nominating RACFs. The volunteers will provide non-clinical social support to residents including companionship, emotional support and support with physical activity.

The program will provide training for volunteers in Personal Protective Equipment, Infection Control and Aged Care specific orientation training and undergo a Police Check prior to commencing with a RACF.

Why it is important

Volunteers have long been an essential part of the aged care system, the volunteer program seeks to complement, not replicate, or replace the paid workforce by a return to providing assistance, companionship and support to residents, essential to the wellbeing of older people. 

The Interim Guidance on Managing Public Health Restriction on Residential Aged Care Facilities, endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) and National Cabinet, encourages increased visits for residents living in residential aged care facilities.

This guidance means that visits from Essential Visitors, like Partners in Care and nominated visitors, can become more frequent and supported.

The volunteer program will also provide support alongside Partners in Care and nominated visitors.

The "Partners in Care" Program which provides training in COVID-19 safe practices, infection control and hygiene to enable family to continue visiting their relatives during a COVID outbreak, is being updated for utilisation across all RACFs and will be available shortly. This is a key component of facilitating safe access to visitors during outbreaks.  

The program also contributes to the response to Recommendation 44 of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, in addition to a $34.4 million expansion of the Community Visitor Scheme (CVS).

Volunteers’ roles

Volunteers are not paid employees of Health or the RACF, and their work does not replace or replicate that of paid workers, they cannot be rostered on to fill shifts. 

Volunteers can agree to assist with:

  • leisure activities (e.g. reading, music)
  • access to and supervision in outdoor spaces or the community
  • physical activity and exercise
  • companionship, conversation and social engagement
  • mobilising support in aid of above activities
  • culturally specific and individually appropriate support
  • administration support (e.g. answering calls, internal message running, restocking of PPE).

Volunteers cannot assist with:

  • nursing care including infection, medication and continence management
  • technical, high risk or complex transfers residents
  • direct care for infected or isolated residents
  • documenting provision of care.

Volunteers’ responsibilities

The volunteer will be required to enter a signed agreement with the RACF which will set out clear timeframes, volunteer role and RACF commitment to each of their roles and responsibilities.

  • provide evidence of up-to-date flu vaccination
  • provide evidence of up-to-date COVID-19 vaccination status
  • undergo a Police Check (if not held)
  • undertake Personal Protective Equipment, Infection Control and Aged Care specific orientation training (If not previously undertaken)

To express interest in volunteering visit the Aged Care Volunteering website.

Provider responsibilities

The RACF will be required to enter a signed agreement with the volunteer to set out clear timeframes, volunteer role and RACF commitment to each of their roles and responsibilities.

Aged care providers must provide:

  • an onsite volunteer or workforce coordinator
  • orientation upon commencement of the facility and processes
  • current volunteer insurance
  • a primary point of contact for communication and supervision
  • free and correctly fitted PPE and free rapid antigen tests for all volunteers
  • a signed statement of agreement with volunteer regarding their role and support.

Aged Care providers must also ensure volunteers are not in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19.

Read the Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19.

The Industry Code ensures aged care residents are provided the opportunity to receive visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, while minimising the risk of its introduction to, or spread within, a residential care home.

How to nominate your facility

Fill out the webform to nominate your facility to receive volunteers from the program. You will need to provide your facility's details, and contact details of the manager responsible for volunteer coordination. 

Nominate your RACF

More information

Learn more about the Community Visitors Scheme, volunteer or make a referral.

Learn more about the Partners in Care program from: