Volunteering in your community

​​Volunteering involves donating your time, skills, knowledge and enthusiasm to a project designed for the greater good of the community.

People volunteer for a number of reasons:
  • To make new friends
  • To contribute to a good cause
  • To give back to their community
  • To improve the environment
  • To learn new skills
  • To feel good about themselves
  • To have fun
Volunteers are doing some fantastic things in the Western Bay of Plenty area and you can join in too. 

Projects range from clearing and replanting public areas, to cladding toilet blocks! It’s all about working as a team to make a difference and improve the community in which we live.

Getting involved

If you would like to get involved with one of the existing local volunteer groups in your area who are doing great things for our waterways, streets, land and coast, see contact details below:

​Volunteering Bay of Plenty​bop.volunteermatch.org.nz
​Department of Conservation​www.doc.govt.nz/volunteer
​Waihi Beach Environment Society​jml.cowern@xtra.co.nz or ghmeikle@xnet.co.nz
​Maketu Ongatoro Wetland SocietyJulian@maketuwetlands.org.nz​​ or Claire@maketuwetlands.org.nz​
​Omokoroa Lions​btj.burford@xtra.co.nz

If you would like your group to be added to this list please contact us on customerservice@westernbay.govt.nz.​​

The right to a healthy and safe work environment

As a volunteer you have a right to be in a safe and healthy workplace, so make sure you ask your group leader what they are doing to ensure this. 

You also have an obligation to take reasonable care for your own health and safety and to make sure you don’t affect the health and safety of others. 

A fear of legislative hurdles around the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HSWA) should not deter people from volunteering. Volunteering New Zealand have created a factsheet on the HSWA for Volunteers.​ They have also developed a number of other factsheets providing further information on volunteering, see the Volunteering New Zealand website.

Working together

Council works with numerous volunteer groups in the community. Where volunteer projects take place on Council owned land, in buildings or the road reserve, under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, we have a 'duty of care' to ensure the group are working safely. 

Groups should contact our customer call centre on 0800 926 732 during the planning stages of the activity or project to discuss requirements. You'll need to talk to our parks and reserves team, roading team or compliance team, depending on where it will be held.

You may be allocated a Council project manager who will then be your point of contact and will ultimately give approval for the activity or project to go ahead. 

Site Safety

As part of the planning process, it is a good idea for your group to go through all the tasks to be carried out to determine the most effective and safest way to do them. Council can help in this process by providing expert advice. This will also help identify what risks are involved. E.g. will you be using weed killer or a chainsaw? When people interact with them, these risks can become hazards. 

Hazards, and the controls you intend to put in place to reduce the risk, should be recorded into a site specific hazard register. The raw risk score is calculated before any controls are put in place, e.g. what harm could occur driving a car. The residual risk is calculated after certain controls have been put in place e.g. if I wear a seat belt and the car has ABS and air bags. These controls should reduce the risk score.

You can use the hazard register template below - your project manager can provide advice on how to complete it.

It may be that you consider some tasks too dangerous to undertake yourselves e.g. felling a large tree. Council may be able to assist with such undertakings, contact your project manager to discuss options.

Some activities may require a Site Specific Safety Plan to be developed by the volunteer group. We can help by providing information and supplying a template (see below). The plan will provide details such as an outline of the proposed work, any conditions put in place by Council, details around first aid and medical provisions, emergency response, equipment and training and contact details for people on the site. The plan must be signed off by your Council project manager before any work starts.

The plan should be kept on site when work is being carried out, and discussed with the group on a daily basis. This enables people to know where they should be working and what tasks they should be doing. Meetings like this are often called “toolbox talks”. 

These meetings are a good opportunity for you to let your group leader know what you are and aren’t capable of. Remember you have a responsibility to look after yourself so if you are on medication or have an existing injury, such as a bad back, let your team know so they can find a job you can do without the risk of hurting yourself.

Please be aware that Council has the right to refuse approval of a volunteer project if the risk to health and safety is considered too great or the proposed controls are considered insufficient to manage the hazards.

Reporting accidents and injuries

If an accident happens, your Council project manager should be notified as soon as possible, particularly if someone is seriously injured. This will allow us to assess the nature of the incident and respond accordingly. By investigating how accidents happen we learn how they happened, how they could have been prevented and if possible put in place measures to ensure they do not happen again.

Traffic management

Any activity or event that affects a road corridor (road, footpath or berm) requires a Traffic Management Plan (TMP).

A TMP is a site-specific plan that covers the design, implementation, maintenance and removal of temporary traffic management measures while work or an activity is carried out in the road corridor. This includes such activities as tree pruning and litter collection.

The plan details how road users - including cyclists and pedestrians - will be directed around a work site, accident, or other temporary road disruption, to minimise inconvenience while providing safe conditions for both the road user and those carrying out the activity. 

For details on how to submit a TMP, see our TMP webpage.

Basic Safety Advice

  • ​Wear footwear and clothing that can cope with the conditions and terrain you will be working in. Sensible boots or shoes, warm clothing and in some cases, overalls are essential
  • Check to see if your site has good mobile phone coverage, if not you may have to find an alternative form of communication.
  • Be sun smart: sunscreen, a hat and appropriate clothing to protect you from the sun’s harmful rays. Remember to ‘slip, slop, slap and wrap’
  • Have a first aid kit available and someone onsite trained in basic first aid.
  • Bring something to eat and drink. Working outside can be tough. If it’s warm weather, you’ll need plenty of water
  • Carry a mobile phone and give Council staff on site your phone number so that we can contact you
  • Take plenty of breaks and get help from your buddies if you need to do any heavy lifting
  • Make sure you have medication with you if you suffer from allergies, asthma or other medical conditions. Let someone in your group know what to do if you fall ill
  • All safety equipment must be checked before you embark on your project
  • Ensure the tools you require are available and operational and that your members are trained or experienced in their use
  • Only use power or mechanically driven tools if you have proper experience and safety equipment and have discussed the project thoroughly with your group leader.

How Council can help your project

If you have a project in mind and a group of volunteers to help you out, here’s how we may be able to work together:

  • ​Collaboration and assistance with job planning
  • Providing funding
  • Contributing materials
  • Connecting you to other volunteer groups
Options available can be discussed with your Council project manager. 

Helpful links​

Further information can be found in our Volunteers Guide (PDF 737KB), which can be printed out and handed out to volunteers at your event.

Council can also help point you in the right direction by linking you to a number of other websites available in the Western Bay of Plenty and nationally. 

Volunteer opportunities:

​Volunteering Bay of Plentybop.volunteermatch.org.nz
​Bay of Plenty Regional Council www.boprc.govt.nz/volunteers
​Volunteering New Zealand​www.volunteeringnz.org.nz
​Hands on Bay Area​www.handsonbayarea.org
​Department of Conservationwww.doc.govt.nz/volunteer
​Envirohub Bay of Plenty​envirohub.org.nz

Disclaimer: This information is a guideline for safety only. Information on hazards and legislation are subject to change at any time.

Page reviewed: 15 Apr 2019 2:05pm