One-card system would reduce SA volunteer 'red tape', says Bell

Wednesday October 24, 2018

Published by Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell MP

Introducing a one-card system to streamline South Australia’s volunteering processes would reduce red tape on both volunteers and organisations, says Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.

Mr Bell introduced a two-part motion in State Parliament on Wednesday, calling on the State Government to implement a similar system to the Queensland model, in operation since 2001.

Queensland’s Blue Card system is recognised as one of Australia’s most comprehensive screening frameworks and includes ‘real-time monitoring’ to protect children and young people from harm.

Mr Bell said South Australia’s current volunteer system needed an overhaul.

“We have around 900,000 plus volunteers in this state who are having to apply for multiple police checks to donate their time to community organisations because our system isn’t centralised,” he said.

“Yes, we need checks and controls to ensure the right people are selected for volunteering roles but we should be making this process simpler for people, not harder.”

Mr Bell said his office had fielded numerous complaints from local residents, who were having to complete police checks every time they volunteered for a new organisation, sometimes multiple times in one year.

“Members of my electorate are telling me the current process is making it harder for organisations to attract volunteers for events and fundraising,” he said.

“Rodney Summers donates his time to six community and sporting organisations, including The Western Border League, Meals on Wheels and the Sunset Kitchen.

“Rodney has had to apply for separate police checks for each because some organisations won’t accept another organisation’s check, even if it’s current. There are clearly some gaps in the current system.”

Mr Bell said introducing a one-card system would streamline the process.

“Studies show the two main barriers to volunteering are personal expense and red tape,” he said.

“The State Government has very wisely removed the Volunteer Screening Fee in this year’s State Budget, so that’s a win for volunteers and organisations but the issue of red tape remains.

“Introducing a one-card system would mean one application process for volunteers to donate their time for any number of organisations across a three-year period.

“It would also serve as greater protection for our vulnerable people, including the elderly, disabled and children, if police information is monitored in real time, ensuring past, present and future risks are managed. In effect, it will close the gaps in our current system.”

Mr Bell said people should be rewarded for volunteering their time, rather than penalised.

“If we have 900,000 volunteers filling out unnecessary paperwork each year, that adds up to thousands of hours wasted duplicating forms,” he said.

“Doesn’t it make sense to have volunteers spending their time doing good work for the community?”​​​​​​​