Volunteer FAQs

Last updated: Thursday 19 May, 2016

For more details contact volunteer@bushheritage.org.au or call (03) 8610 9100 (9am-5pm AEST, Monday to Friday).


Who can volunteer?

We welcome interest from enthusiastic adults (over 18 years). If you're under 18, you may be able to help with some activities with the support of a parent or guardian.

Some volunteer jobs call for specific skills or knowledge. In particular demand are: land management skills, welding, building, tractor operation and ecological monitoring skills. However, other opportunities only require a can-do attitude. When volunteer positions are advertised, any prerequisites will be described.

What do Bush Heritage volunteers do?

Position descriptions give specific information about roles.

On reserves tasks include: caretaking, grounds and building maintenance, fencing, feral animal control, weed control, ecological monitoring and other ongoing land management activities.

Office tasks include: research, administration and fundraising, events and other projects relating to the business of the organisation.

How do I sign up?

Register your interest with our online Volunteer Expression of Interest form. Then we'll contact you to discuss.

What are the benefits of registering?

Registered volunteers are the first notified of new roles. Occasionally, we organise and invite volunteers to social events, or have free tickets or other gifts to reward volunteers.

Volunteers get a chance to work in amazing locations with like-minded people to help achieve conservation outcomes. Along with a sense of comraderie and achievement, some gain experience and skills that help on their path to employment.

Why are opportunities limited?

We're expanding our volunteer program, but we want to ensure volunteers are safe, doing meaningful work, adequate resourced, and covered by insurance. This limits the placements available.

When we have a position, initially information is emailed directly to volunteers already registered. If they can't cover the position, we may advertise.

How are people selected?

All roles have a position description. Selection depends on skills, experience and availability matching the position description.

Do I have to be a donor?

No. Financial support is always appreciated, but volunteers are selected based on the best match to the role.

Can my children (or my dog) come too?

Children may be allowed if under your direct supervision, at the discretion of the supervisor (based on risks, facilities available and whether it would reduce places for other volunteers). If there are age-appropriate tasks available, your child may be able to volunteer too.

Unfortunately pets can’t be brought onto any reserves.

Can I volunteer in the summer holidays?

Our work is shaped by weather events and seasons. Volunteer jobs are limited over the summer because of high temperatures, increased fire threat and monsoonal rainfall in the north. Similarly, weather sometimes causes volunteer activity to be postponed or cancelled. All positions are subject to change.

Does it cost (will expenses be reimbursed)?

There’s no cost to volunteer, but you may incur out-of-pocket expenses including travel and meals. Accommodation is provided where the infrastructure is available, but sometimes you’ll need to stay in the local town at your own expense. On a priority basis, financial support for travel and food is pre-approved for some volunteer projects and activities. When a volunteer position is advertised, the availability of financial support will be explained.

Do I need an email address?

We depend on email to communicate efficiently with registered volunteers. If you don't have an email address, please stay in touch by phone.

Are volunteers insured?

We maintain Volunteer Workers personal accident insurance to cover some out-of-pocket expenses following accidental injury, disability or death while volunteering. This doesn't cover expenses from travel disruptions (including flood, fire or dust-storm). We strongly recommend you consider taking out your own travel insurance before volunteering. We also recommend an ambulance subscription.

What should I wear?

When doing active outdoor volunteer work, ensure you have a comfortable long-sleeved shirt and trousers, a broad-brimmed hat, sturdy work boots with good tread, work gloves, sunscreen (high protection factor) and a water bottle. Bring wet-weather clothing and in the cooler months be prepared with something warm and wind-proof.

Do I need transport?

If you're volunteering at our Melbourne CBD office, public transport is your best option and we have parking space for bicycles.

If you're volunteering at one of our reserves you'll arrange your own transport. Reserves are generally remote from populated centres and some can only be accessed by a 4WD with high clearance.

How are meals handled? Can I buy food at the reserve?

Volunteers must provide their own food. When overnight stays are involved, we strongly recommend bringing contingency supplies in case you get stuck on location for longer than expected. Come prepared: most of our reserves are remote and shops are many hours’ drive away.

What accommodation can I expect?

Where an overnight stay is needed we provide accommodation where possible. Facilities vary at each location and can range from a base camp to basic workers' quarters. Where there are quarters, you can expect a simple mattress, shared kitchen, showers and toilets. Campgrounds have basic facilities, including a drop toilet and a fire pit.

What are the challenges with remote locations?

Your supervisor will brief you on how to work safely but remote locations can be challenging and, at times, uncomfortable. They may not have ample water or electricity and some reserves are subject to temperature extremes.

You may find yourself with powdered milk and bruised fruit, without some of the entertainment you're used to. Entertainment tends to revolve instead around stargazing, sharing meals and conversation with other volunteers, comparing notes, card games, early nights, or catching up on reading.

Remote locations are many hours from medical care. If you have a significant medical condition, carefully consider your health before deciding to go.

When driving to remote places, you can expect extreme weather conditions, challenging terrain, and isolation from services. You should prepare well, be well-provisioned and equipped to cope with unexpected delays or emergencies. Planning can help to avoid hassles or potentially life-threatening situations.

Ensure you have a roadworthy vehicle, two spare tyres, good maps, first aid supplies, extra food, extra water, extra fuel, appropriate communications equipment, vehicle maintenance and recovery equipment, and an emergency plan.

Few of our reserves get standard mobile network coverage, so check with your provider for coverage and hire a satellite phone if you don't have guaranteed coverage.

When driving to a remote area:

  • Plan your route and notify a third-party of your expected arrival time.
  • Check road conditions before you start travelling.
  • Avoid travelling in extreme heat.
  • Stay with your vehicle if it breaks down.
  • Drive slowly on unsealed, dusty or narrow roads and always check road conditions before turning off major roads.
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