The National Folk Festival is a not-for-profit organisation whose mission is ‘to deliver the national annual celebration of folk culture’.

Our core values are:

  • Respect – For our traditional and contemporary folk culture; for one and another
  • Inclusiveness – openness to diverse participation, contribution and efforts
  • Teamwork – common goals, different roles, collaborative action, shared accountability and rewards
  • Professionalism – good governance and management; honesty, integrity and transparency
Policy Statement and principles

Volunteers are essential to the Festival and contribute greatly to the character and community of the Festival, fulfilling major roles required to produce it. Volunteers also provide assistance at other times of the year.

Volunteers benefit the Festival and the broader community by giving patrons, at a reasonable price, access to Australia’s and other countries’ folk traditions, and ensuring that the folk tradition remains alive and is enriched by a diversity of cultures.

We aim to ensure that the experience of participation as a Volunteer is one that is of mutual benefit to the Volunteer, the community and the Festival.

We endeavour to provide effective management of our Volunteers and abide by best practice in line with Volunteering Australia’s National Standard for Volunteer Involvement 2015

We acknowledge and respect Volunteering Australia’s New Definition of Volunteering

We acknowledge and respect Volunteering Australia’s Principles of Volunteering

We aim to promote and protect the rights of our Volunteers as set out in Volunteering Australia’s statement of Volunteer Rights

We reserve the right to decline an application from any person applying to be a Volunteer for the Festival.

The Festival supports that Volunteering

  • is of benefit to the community and the Volunteer
  • is undertaken for no financial payment
  • is always a matter of choice – undertaken of the Volunteer’s own free will and without coercion
  • is not compulsorily undertaken to receive pensions or government allowances
  • is a legitimate way in which citizens can participate in the activities of their community
  • is a vehicle for individuals or groups to address human, environmental and social needs
  • is an activity performed in the not for profit sector
  • [where possible] is not a substitute for paid work
  • [finances permitting] should not replace paid workers nor constitute a threat to the job security of paid workers
  • respects the rights, dignity and culture of others, and
  • promotes human rights and equality.
Volunteer Rights and Responsibilities

The Festival respects the rights of Volunteers. We

  • comply with legal requirements under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT) to provide Volunteers with a healthy and safe workplace
  • assess our Volunteer applications in accordance with anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation
  • provide our Volunteers with orientation and training
  • provide appropriate and adequate insurance coverage for our Volunteers
  • define our Volunteer roles and are developing clear job descriptions
  • provide appropriate levels of support and management for Volunteers
  • provide Volunteers with access to policies pertaining to their work
  • make every effort to limit the commitment of Volunteers during the Festival Period to no more than 20 hours, unless they voluntarily offer additional time
  • endeavour to limit the commitment of Volunteers who provide services at times other than during the Festival to no more than 40 hours, unless the person offers additional time, and
  • differentiate between paid and unpaid roles and prefer not to place Volunteers in roles that were previously held by paid staff or have been or should be identified as paid jobs [but acknowledge there will be times when limited finances may mean there is no alternative] – in deciding whether a role should be a paid role or filled by a Volunteer we will have regard to the criteria in Volunteering Australia’s Volunteer Roles Toolkit, the Festival’s budget and appropriate risk management principles.

We expect our Volunteers to

  • make an informed choice to Volunteer for us
  • inform us about their relevant skills and experience
  • inform us about any existing medical condition, special needs or other relevant factors that should reasonably be taken into account in assessing which Volunteer roles might be appropriate for the particular Volunteer
  • undertake any work orientation and training provided by us relevant to the Volunteer’s duties, and
  • comply with our Volunteer Code of Conduct

Volunteers should be aware of and support the mutual rights and responsibilities set out below



Volunteers with the National Folk Festival have the right to:

With regard to Volunteers, the National Folk Festival has the right to:

Volunteers with the National Folk Festival have a responsibility to:

With regard to Volunteers, the National Folk Festival has a responsibility to:

be treated with respect expect loyalty be loyal and respect confidentiality ensure a climate of mutual respect and confidence between paid staff and Volunteer staff
work in a clearly defined Volunteer position and where appropriate, be given a job description determine the duties and conditions of a position be aware of the duties they are expected to perform differentiate between paid and unpaid roles and aim to not place Volunteers in roles that were previously held by paid staff or have been or should be identified as paid jobs where funds are available for paid staff
be given opportunities to participate at the Festival with an effort made to match individual needs determine where a Volunteer may best fit within the Festival structure, after consultation with the Volunteer accept duties seriously by being reliable and dependable acknowledge the essential role of Volunteers in the successful co-ordination and organisation of the operation of the Festival
participate without fear of discrimination in accordance with anti discrimination and equal employment opportunity legislation engage or not engage any Volunteer based on the needs of the Festival Comply with anti discrimination and equal employment opportunity legislation comply with anti discrimination and equal employment opportunity legislation
know as much about the National Folk Festival as possible including policies, procedures and objectives determine what information about the organisation will be made available to Volunteers assist the Festival in achieving its goals make appropriate information available to Volunteers
be provided with a healthy and safe workplace and adequate and appropriate insurance cover seek from a Volunteer, any relevant information which may affect Work Health and Safety standards and insurance cover observe Work Health and Safety standards continue to provide a Volunteer service that is adequately supervised, managed and appropriately resourced
appropriate orientation, training, monitoring, rewards and feedback determine if necessary, minimum specific qualifications or training for a position Attend orientation and training programs wherever possible provide an appropriate level of orientation, training, support and supervision and recognition
adequate and appropriate levels of support and management and regular supervision by a paid staff member and/or Coordinator who is readily accessible designate appropriate levels of management and supervision to all Volunteers
be made aware of  procedures for grievances, conflict resolution, queries, suggestions clear and open communication from a Volunteer be open, honest and understanding listen and act upon suggestions, grievances and feedback  given by Volunteers where appropriate
expect a Volunteer to meet minimum standards of service and the highest levels of dedication, commitment and effort honour their expected time commitment
participate in relevant planning and decision making procedures expect effective and appropriate work productivity from Volunteers in leadership positions be a team player – respect the functions and roles of paid and unpaid staff and the Festival Engage Volunteers in appropriate planning and decision making processes
say no tell a Volunteer that their services are no longer required


Volunteer Management

Our Volunteer Program is administered by the Volunteer Manager and the Office and Special Events Manager who are employees that report directly to the Festival Director.  Other employees have responsibility for liaising with and supervising Volunteers within their respective areas as relevant and appropriate.

There are 3 levels of Volunteers during the Festival Period:

  1. Volunteer – in most circumstances reports to an immediate supervisor, either the relevant Shift Manager or Area Coordinator
  2. Shift Manager – reports to the relevant Area Coordinator
  3. Area Coordinator – reports to the employee who oversees the Coordinator Area activities.  The Area Coordinator is responsible for supporting and supervising the day-to-day activities of Volunteers within their team.

Where possible, a Volunteer role will have a Job Description to ensure Volunteers are aware of the nature of work they will be undertaking.

Where a position, in its entirety, cannot be performed in less than 16 hours per week (in an ongoing capacity), we will follow the guidelines and criteria set out in Volunteering Australia’s Toolkit – Designing Volunteer Roles and Job Descriptions to determine if that role is suitable for Volunteer involvement or more suited to a paid position.

Our Production Manager is responsible for ensuring that equipment and facilities are provided so that Volunteers can do their jobs safely and efficiently.

We review Volunteer roles as part of the annual feedback and debrief process and more broadly reviewed as part of our business planning.

The work performance of Volunteers in key roles may be subject to performance management and appraisal.

Volunteers are covered by our insurance policies and there is an accident and incident reporting system in place.

We have a Grievance and Complaints Policy and process for Volunteers.

Our policies apply equally to Volunteers and employees where these are relevant to both groups. Other policies are only applicable to employees.

Recruitment, Training and Development

Our Volunteers are recruited through a variety of sources including but not limited to:

  • Word of Mouth
  • Festival Website and E-News letter
  • Volunteering ACT
  • Advertisements
  • Social Media

All Volunteers are required to complete an online Volunteer Application and mandatory induction to apply for a Volunteer position and nominate their preferred work area.  There is no guarantee that an application will be accepted or that a Volunteer position in a preferred work area will be available. These Volunteer records are maintained and controlled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.  Police and reference checks are / may be conducted where the position warrants it.

We will endeavour to place Volunteers in a position which is acceptable to both the Volunteer and the Festival (subject to operational and skills requirements) and undertakes not to place a Volunteer in a position which has previously been identified as a paid position.

We offer Volunteers the opportunity to participate in a number of induction, orientation and training programs to expand their knowledge and skills and ensure that Work Health & Safety and any other appropriate legislative or regulatory requirements are met.  Volunteers are expected to participate in these programs wherever possible.

These programs are constantly reviewed and revised to ensure they are relevant to Volunteer and the Festival’s needs.

Recognition and Benefits

We recognise and appreciate those persons who provide us with their services voluntarily.

Volunteers who commit to work a minimum of 20 hours during the Festival Period, 30 hours of work in the Setup and Pack down period or 40 hours in the Mitchell Office will be given for that Festival:

  • 1 Season + Camping Ticket
  • Vehicle Pass (if camping)
  • Access to the Festival Volunteer Centre
  • Access to discounted meals from selected stallholders
  • Volunteer Party on the final night of the Festival

The exception to this is a Volunteer who is assigned to the Clean Up Team.  Such Volunteers must purchase a ticket to gain entry to the Festival and, on completion of the minimum of 20 hours volunteer service following the conclusion of that Festival, can complete a Refund Application for the ticket price paid (excluding any booking fee).

Note that a Volunteer who collects a Season + Camping Pass and fails to complete the minimum 20, 30, or 40 hours volunteer work, will be invoiced for the amount of the Season + Camping Pass unless the Volunteer Manager or Office and Special Events Manager accepts there were special circumstances rendering that person unable to complete the volunteer work.

Volunteer ticket refunds

A person who applies to be a Volunteer for a particular Festival after purchasing a ticket for that Festival can apply for a refund of the ticket price paid (excluding any booking fee), subject to the following:

  • The ticket must have been purchased by the person prior to the person being accepted as a Volunteer
  • The person must have completed a minimum of 20 hours volunteer service during the Festival Period, or 30 hours in the setup / pack down periods  and
  • The person must complete a Refund Application and submit it and all documentation required to support that application to the Volunteer Manager no later than 28 days after the Festival.

During the Festival Period, Volunteer hours are usually worked on a roster basis over a number of shifts as determined by the relevant supervising Area Coordinator or employee.

Volunteers are required to complete a timesheet to enable us to monitor the number of hours worked, measure the demands placed on Volunteers and ensure compliance with legal requirements under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (ACT) and any terms and conditions in our insurance policies that cover Volunteers.

During the Festival Period, Volunteer timesheets must be completed and signed by the Volunteer at the conclusion of each shift, signed by the appropriate supervisor or coordinator and provided to the Volunteer Manager. If a Volunteer refuses or fails to comply with this requirement, we can refuse or terminate their services as a Volunteer.

If a volunteer has been directed to complete a timesheet and then provides false or inaccurate information on timesheets, we may dispense with the services of that volunteer.

Reimbursement for Expenses

Unless prior approval has been given by the Festival’s Volunteer Manager or the Office and Special Events or Production Manager (as relevant), no expenditure by a Volunteer will be reimbursed.  Where prior approval has been given, receipts or other proof of expenditure must be provided to support a claim for reimbursement.

Participation, Communication and Feedback

We conduct surveys of our patrons and volunteer to seek feedback as part of a post-Festival debrief.

Meetings and debriefs with Area Coordinators and Volunteers are used to gather suggestions at team level for further improvements and changes to operations and policy issues are foreshadowed and discussed.

We endeavour to give Volunteers feedback about the success of the Festival after the event.

We communicate with our Volunteers through:

  • Direct email and phone communication
  • A Volunteer newsletter (twice a year),
  • Facebook groups for Volunteer and Area Coordinators, and
  • Volunteer orientation day immediately prior to the Festival.
Statements of Volunteer Service and References

In recognition of the services provided to the Festival as well as skills and experience gained, a statement of Volunteer Service may be provided, on request, by the Volunteer Manager. Where a Reference is also required in relation to volunteer roles fulfilled, skills required and/or performance in the role, a Volunteer should contact their area coordinator or the Volunteer Manager and advise that they desire a Reference.  While every effort will be made to provide References, the provision of any Reference will be dependent on the amount of advance notice given and the availability of relevant persons to prepare the Reference in the required time-frame.