Employers of volunteers

It takes thousands of dedicated Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) volunteers from across the state to provide emergency assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

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Volunteering for VICSES provides the opportunity to learn skills that are highly sought after and transferrable to the workplace. As a registered training office (RTO), all volunteers receive nationally endorsed and competency based training in a broad range of operational and non-operational areas, and gain skills and experience in leadership, teamwork, communication, accountability and commitment. Employers also benefit from increased employee engagement, morale and motivation, while making a demonstrated contribution to corporate social responsibility.

Volunteers come from all walks of life, covering a diverse range of ages, professions and backgrounds. They assist with everything from front line response, to media engagement and community education.

Volunteers receive nationally endorsed and competency-based training and support which is available after hours and on weekends. This ensures every volunteer is skilled and capable to perform their role. Pathways for further development are also provided.

Each VICSES unit is unique in its size, responsibilities, and location. Volunteers can select the unit and schedule to suit their lifestyle and workplace.

Roles and specialised skills volunteers can experience and develop include:

  • General rescue

  • Community education

  • First aid

  • Storm response

  • Media liaison

  • Road rescue

  • Social media management

  • Boat rescue and flood response

  • Search and rescue

  • Fundraising

  • Map reading and navigation

  • Supervising events

  • Leading and managing teams

  • Administrative support

  • Four-wheel driving

  • Incident management



Volunteering for VICSES is an enriching and fulfilling experience. It provides an opportunity to learn highly sought after skills to add value to the workplace.

Skills and experience VICSES volunteers bring to the workplace include:

  • Nationally endorsed and competency-based training in a broad range of areas

  • Leadership, teamwork, and communication

  • Problem-solving skills and adaptability

  • Demonstrated contribution to corporate social responsibility

  • Increased employee engagement

  • Improved morale, confidence and motivation

Safety drives decisions at VICSES and our volunteer are well versed and committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for themselves, their fellow volunteers, and their community. 

They receive formal training in work health and safety, work under the VICSES Safety Management system, and are skilled in recognition of hazards and managing risks in a dynamic and unsafe workplace.

Volunteers and their families have access to a broad range of physical and mental health and wellbeing programs. The programs available include health checks, vaccinations, healthy eating initiatives, mental health support and education, fitness programs, workers' compensation, supportive return to work arrangements and peer support.

When allowing employees to volunteer, we understand this is a big commitment on your part.

We ask all volunteers to discuss volunteering and leave arrangements with their employer at the commencement of joining or at the earliest time possible. We also recommend formalising and documenting arrangements made in accordance with the employers individual requirements.

To follow is information and support to assist you in this important role.

Leave arrangements

VICSES volunteers are encouraged to discuss and negotiate leave arrangements with their employer at the earliest possible time, and prior to engaging in any work hours for emergency response. Any leave arrangements are to be documented in accordance with an employers’ individual requirements

Payroll tax exemptions for employers

Payments to employees who are absent from work to volunteer responding to emergencies are exempt from payroll tax. The exemptions apply to employers of VICSES volunteers. The exemption does not apply in situations where the employee is involved in these activities while on official leave, such as annual leave or long service leave.

To receive this exemption, you need to prove, for example via a letter or statement from VICSES, that wages were paid for a period where an employee was undertaking emergency services duty.  The State Revenue Office Victoria has further detail.

National employment standards (NES)

The Fair Work Act 2009 informs the National Employment Standards and provides guidance for employers of emergency service volunteers. You can call the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 1394 or visit fairwork.gov.au for further information.

The NES entitles employees who are members of VICSES to take unpaid community service leave for certain emergency management activities including emergency response. 

Awards and enterprise agreements may also contain specific provisions in relation to community service leave in addition to the NES. 

Under the NES, the amount of time that can be taken is not specified, however it must be reasonable taking into account: 

  • The time the employees was engaged in the activity

  • Reasonable travel time that is associated with the activity 

  • Reasonable rest time immediately following the activity. 

An employee who wants to take a period of community service must tell their employer as soon as practicable, including the expected period of absence and provide any required evidence of the reason for the leave. In addition, the employee must also be: 

  1. Engaging in an activity that involves dealing with an emergency or natural disaster 

  2. Engaging in the activity on a voluntary basis

  3. A current member of VICSES 

  4. Requested to engage in an activity that involves dealing with an emergency or natural disaster